The American Progressive Bag Alliance, Washington, has been renamed the American Recyclable Plastic Bag Alliance (ARPBA). The U.S. plastic bag manufacturers and recyclers that comprise the group also have signed a sustainability commitment that includes reusing or recycling 95 percent of plastic retail bags by 2025.
“Our alliance was founded by U.S. manufacturers who saw the benefits in plastic bag recycling and invested heavily in the infrastructure and education needed to make it a reality,” says Gary Alstott, chairman of the ARPBA and senior vice president at Novolex, a plastic bag manufacturer. “Our members now recycle hundreds of millions of pounds of bags and plastic films each year, and each of us are undertaking many other efforts to promote sustainable bag use.”
Matt Seaholm, executive director of the ARPBA, adds, “As a result of our industry’s efforts to build recycling infrastructure, nearly all Americans can now conveniently bring plastic bags and other plastic films back to the grocery store to be recycled into new products. We are proud of the progress we have made and energized to do even more. The change to the American Recyclable Plastic Bag Alliance best reflects our members’ efforts as a coalition and helps us continue to share the success story of plastic bag recycling.”
The ARPBA claims the current reuse rate of plastic grocery bags is about 78 percent, while the recycling rate is nearly 12 percent, for a total reuse and recycling rate of nearly 90 percent. In addition to efforts that encourage consumers to reuse bags and working with retailers to place consistent recycling language on all U.S.-made bags, ARPBA members say they will increase the amount of recycled content in their products to achieve today’s pledge of a 95 percent reuse and recycle rate by 2025.
ARPBA members committed to achieving tiered increases in minimum recycled content in plastic retail bags. All bags will have 10 percent recycled content by 2021, which will increase to 15 percent by 2023 and to 20 percent by 2025.
The full ARPBA Sustainability Commitment, with more details about other environmental and education efforts, plus participation in programs to find new end markets for plastic bags, is available at https://bagalliance.org/sustainability-commitment.
According to that commitment, the ARPBA says it works with retailers to reduce the number of bags leaving the store by addressing double bagging and other unnecessary bag use.
“As an alternative to per-bag fees or a ban on plastic bags, we have offered a fee-per-transaction model,” the organization says. “Policies that ban plastic bags or charge a fee for each bag dramatically increase the cost to consumers and business without reducing overall litter or waste. A transaction fee would be much less regressive and serve as discouragement for using one bag for one item in a convenience shopping scenario.”