For the past 18 months, two manufacturers of plastic dry cleaning bags have had recycling efforts in the bag. Sigma Extruding Corp. ofLyndhurst, N.J., and Southeastern Plastics Inc. of New Bruns-wick, N.J., have set up a system that has kept 250,000 pounds of plastic bags from winding up in landfills. The companies collect used bags returned to dry cleaning stores and have them reprocessed by a sister company.
Stanley Band, vice president of Alpha Group, the Lyndhurst-based parent company of both, said the system involves 23 distributors of their bags, and thousands of dry cleaning retailers in the East and Midwest.
Through the distributors, thefirms provide retailers with recycling boxes for their stores, and signs urging customers to return bags. The distributors pick up the boxes when they make deliveries and hold the material until they collect about 10,000 pounds of the low and linear low density polyethylene-blend bags.
Then, the bags are baled using equipment provided to the distributors by Sigma and Southeastern, and shipped to Zeta Corp., a sister company in Macomb, Ill. Zeta reprocesses the PE and incorporates it into Zeta's Renew line of 100 percent post-consumer trash bags.
``We feel that this is a great way to close the loop on our bags, which would otherwise go to the landfills,'' Band said. ``There is no cost to the retailers or distributors, because if they did not carry the used bags back in their truck after making deliveries, they would be traveling empty.''
Sigma and Southeastern also sell the recycled-content trash bags to their retail customers for sale in their stores.
``Of course we've experienced some problems implementing our program,'' Band said. ``One was educating customers not to mix other kinds of waste with the polyethylene bags, as contaminants can render the material unusable.''