Novolex increases plastic bag recycling capacity

Investment in North Vernon, Indiana, recycling facility will increase recycling of store drop-off items, including retail bags.

Novolex, based in Hartsville, South Carolina, has announced that it is investing in a new water treatment system that will increase its capacity to recycle plastic retail bags and other films collected through store drop-off programs. Novolex expects this investment to increase recycling capacity by more than 500,000 pounds per year.

The North Vernon, Indiana, recycling center processes plastics collected through store drop-off points. Consumers can bring back plastic retail bags, as well as other bags and film, including produce bags, bread bags, newspaper bags, cereal bags, mailers, dry cleaning and other polyethylene (PE) films commonly used to package retail goods. 

Those items are transported to the Novolex recycling center in North Vernon, which washes and processes them into resin pellets. Water used to process the incoming plastics needs to be filtered and clean to produce a better yield. The new water treatment system keeps the water clean and increases the quality and volume of recycled pellets, which are then used to manufacture new plastic retail bags.

"Because Novolex is both a manufacturer and a recycler, we have a unique role in the plastics circular economy. We're excited to announce this investment in our recycling center in North Vernon because it extends our commitment to manufacturing in Indiana and continues to improve our recycling operations," says Troy Cook, plant manager for the recycling center in North Vernon.

Novolex is also a supporter of the How2Recycle program and partners with retailers to have PE film and bags marked with the "Store Drop-off" logo. This has increased consumer awareness of the types of materials that can be placed in these recycling programs, with stores seeing an increased variety and volume of films coming into drop-off programs in recent years.

"This investment helps ensure we expand our capabilities as the marketplace evolves," says Erik Gonring, director of sustainability for Novolex. "All of us need to do our part to improve our nation's ability to collect, reclaim and reuse plastics. It's going to take everyone – from consumers and businesses to government leaders – working together to make this happen."