Plastic film recycling increases slightly

More than 1 billion pounds of postconsumer plastic film packaging was collected for recycling in 2012, according to ACC report.

April 15, 2014
Recycling Today Staff
According to a recent report, the collection of postconsumer film packaging for recycling in 2012 topped 1 billion pounds, a modest 1 percent increase from the prior year. The report, “2012 National Postconsumer Plastic Bag & Film Recycling Report," was produced by Moore Recycling Associates, Sonoma, Calif., for the Washington, D.C.-based American Chemistry Council’s (ACC) Plastics Division. It was based on surveys from 21 United States and Canadian processors and 39 exporters.

The plastic film covered in the report includes plastic bags, product wraps and commercial shrink film.

“This report shows that even though film recycling had not grown as we had hoped last year, there is a lot of opportunity to make a difference with our programs,” says Shari Jackson, director of the Flexible Film Recycling Group (FFRG), a product group of the ACC.

Today, more than 18,000 store drop-off locations are avaialble throughout the U.S. to collect plastic bags, wraps and film for recycling. Moreover, existing infrastructures for collecting commercial film can be greatly expanded to capture significantly more of this material from the increasing number of businesses seeking recovery options for shrink film and transport packaging.

To boost the recovery of film plastic, the FFRG says it is introducing a number of initiatives to expand education and access to film recycling to increase the recycling of the material over the next five years. Additionally, the FFRG is working to implement in the coming months a national multistakeholder collaboration known as the Wrap Recycling Action Program (WRAP). The FFRG says it hopes to launch the initiative later this year. A social component of WRAP is underway to help educate Americans about what film and wrap plastics can be recycled. Preliminary information is available at

“What is very encouraging about the report,” Jackson says, “is the information on the bale audits. We’re seeing that the majority of films collected for recycling are film product wraps and other film packaging. We’ve been working hard to educate people about their ability to recycle plastic film packaging beyond bags so it’s reassuring to see the bales reflect that our messaging is connecting and having an impact.”