Film recycling gains show real progress

Patty Moore
Nina Butler
Stacey Luddy

Published: February 17, 2012 6:00 am ET

Mark Murray, executive director of Californians Against Waste, uses misleading facts and figures in his attempt to downplay the positive news in the recent “National Postconsumer Plastic Bag and Film Recycling Report.”

If Mr. Murray was genuinely interested in reducing waste, he would help recycling efforts by promoting the opportunity to recover recyclable household items such as toilet-paper wrap and bread bags — thanks to the infrastructure provided by retailers across U.S. to collect bags. That infrastructure, unlike curbside, does not cost communities anything and is a benefit to the retail community as well. Most grocers voluntarily collect bags and wraps from their customers and combine them with their back-of-the store pallet wrap. This high-quality product is being purchased by domestic reclaimers, diverting valuable resources from disposal and creating jobs.

The figures Mr. Murray uses in his press release about the National Postconsumer Plastic Bag and Film Recycling Report misdirect the readers. It is true there was an increase in film and bag generation from 2009-10 according to EPA figures, but the increase of all bags, sacks and wraps was only 160 million pounds and the increase in recycling was 220 million pounds. And, over a three-year period (2008-10) recycling gains are even more impressive. The EPA data states that recycling of bags, sacks and wraps grew by 120 million pounds, while sales of the same fell 60 million pounds. (Wraps grew over the three-year period, but bags and sacks sales actually dropped 340 million pounds.) The data clearly shows that film recycling is making significant gains.

Mr. Murray questions Moore Recycling Associates’ methodology to determine the amount of bags recovered by referencing a California study that calls the validity of its own data into question several times. As stated in our report, Moore Recycling selected the most conservative percentage of bags mixed with wraps that were reported by companies that buy and process millions of pounds of retail-generated material from across the country. A mixed-film bale with only 6 percent bag material would be either a premium-grade bale with a high percent of wrap, or a really bad bale with an extreme level of contamination. And note that the 6 percent Murray referenced was for “complying” bags, a very narrow California-specific definition.

More important than clarifying Mr. Murray’s inveigled figures, is to acknowledge that we saw growth in domestic processing of recovered film and bag material. Domestic reclaimers reported increases in all grades of film. More material was processed in the U.S./Canada than was sold to overseas markets, a significant reversal in the trend of the past several years. The sustainability of our infrastructure to manage our resources domestically depends on a steady supply of quality material. The retail infrastructure for collecting bags — which allows for the collection of consumer sacks and wrap as well — is making these recycling gains possible.

Patty Moore, Nina Butler

and Stacey Luddy

Moore Recycling Associates Inc.

Sonoma, Calif.


Comments

Film recycling gains show real progress

Patty Moore
Nina Butler
Stacey Luddy

Published: February 17, 2012 6:00 am ET

Post Your Comments


Back to story

Market Reports

Flexible Packaging Trends in North America

Our latest RESEARCH report examines trends in FLEXIBLE PACKAGING impacting the North American market including a review of economic conditions, key drivers of growth, materials pricing, M&A activity, sustainability challenges and the outlook for 2015.

Learn more

Plastics in Brazil - State of the Industry Report

This in-depth report examines the Brazilian plastics industry from a historical and geographical context. Our analysts provide insight on economic trends and forecasts, growing manufacturing sectors that utilize plastics, private investment opportunities, market environment challenges, and innovations in R&D.

Data tables and charts on producer prices, trade, plastics production and end market indicators is also included.

Learn more

Plastics Recycling Trends in North America

This report is a review and analysis of the North American Plastics Recycling Industry, including key trends and statistics based on 2013 performance. We examine market environment factors, regulatory issues, industry challenges, key drivers and emerging trends in post-consumer and post-industrial recycling.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

January 14, 2015 - January 14, 2015Plastics in Automotive

February 4, 2015 - February 6, 2015Plastics News Executive Forum 2015

June 2, 2015 - June 3, 2015Plastics Financial Summit - Chicago 2015

September 16, 2015 - September 18, 2015Plastics Caps & Closures - September 2015

October 27, 2015 - October 29, 2015Plastics Financial Summit - New York - 2015

More Events