SC Johnson, headquartered in Racine, Wisconsin, announced that has reached a milestone in its quest to make Ziploc brand bags recyclable from curbside bins, avoiding millions of pounds of plastic from ending up in landfills. The company says it is converting flexible film that includes grocery store and Ziploc brand bags collected from curbside bins into full-size garbage bags.
Developing a way to reuse Ziploc brand bags and other types of plastic film is a key step in the process to make recycling available at the curb. While 18,000-plus stores currently accept Ziploc bags for recycling, those efforts only collect about 0.2 percent of Ziploc bags sold. Finding a way to allow Ziploc brand bags to be collected curbside and then recycled will make the practice more convenient and boost recycling numbers, as only about one-third of U.S. residents currently recycle them at drop-off locations, the company says.
“For decades we have worked to lighten our environmental footprint,” says Fisk Johnson, chairman and CEO of SC Johnson. “It’s who we are. It’s how we operate. And, recycling Ziploc bags is just one more example.”
The search took the company to Europe, which has the equipment needed to wash soiled plastic film to prepare it for reuse and recycling, SC Johnson says. After converting the rinsed plastic film into pellets, another European company melted down the pellets and converted them into garbage bags.
SC Johnson says it is testing the same process in the U.S. with a recycling facility and garbage bag manufacturer. The company says it also is looking into additional uses for the collected material, such as pallets and construction beams. SC Johnson says it has no plans to mass produce or sell garbage bags made from recycled Ziploc brand bags, though it will sell limited quantities on its Green Choices website, www.scjohnson.com/en/green-choices/overview.aspx, by the end of the year.
Ziploc brand bags have been collected for recycling at stores, along with other plastic bags. But those bags are clean. Ziploc brand bags and other plastic film tossed in curbside recycling bin pick up dirt and other grime, reducing their value for reuse. Most recycling facilities in the U.S. remove Ziploc brand bags from the recycling stream by hand and send them to the landfill.