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A national report prepared for the American Chemistry Council (ACC), Arlington, Va., finds that the recycling of plastic film climbed 4 percent to reach 1 billion pounds in 2011. The report, by Moore Recycling Associates, Sonoma, Calif., finds that recycling of plastic film, which includes bags, product wraps and commercial shrink film, has increased by 55 percent since 2005.
According to the report, about 58 percent of U.S.-recovered postconsumer film was consumed domestically in 2011—up from 53 percent in 2010—largely in light of growth in the plastic and composite lumber industry, the primary market for this material.
The composite lumber industry showed a 120 million pound increase in consumption from 2010 to 2011 to reach 55 percent of the total market for recovered film. Consumption of postconsumer plastic film by the film and sheet industry, the second largest market for this material, held steady at 100 million pounds, or 16 percent of the total market.
Recycled polyethylene (PET) film is used to make a range of products, including durable plastic and composite lumber for outdoor decks and fencing, home building products, garden products, crates, pipe and new film packaging like plastic bags.
Recovery data in the report, 2011 National Postconsumer Plastic Bag & Film Recycling Report, is based on a survey of 19 U.S. and three Canadian processors of postconsumer film, along with 37 companies that export this material, according to Moore Recycling Associates.
“Reaching the 1 billion pound mark is an achievement that plastics makers, recyclers and retailers can be proud of,” says Steve Russell, vice president of plastics for the ACC. “And we’re continuing to work together to get that number even higher.”
According to the ACC, consumers can bring used PE bags and wraps to more than 15,000 locations, primarily large grocery and retail chains, to be recycled nationwide.