A group of companies have banded together to develop and introduce a program in Omaha, Nebraska, called Hefty Energy Bag, which has been designed to convert nonrecycled plastics into energy.
Through the program, plastics normally disposed of at area landfills will be collected and sorted at a local recycling facility and converted into energy that will be used to produce cement. The participants in the Hefty Energy Bag program expect a total of 36 tons of previously non-recycled plastic will be diverted from Omaha area landfills and used to generate energy.
The program is based on the success of an Energy Bag pilot program in Citrus Heights, California, in 2014. In the first phase of the program 6,000 existing Recyclebank members in the Omaha area will receive Hefty Energy Bags.
“The Energy Bag Pilot demonstrated resource recovery of nonrecycled plastics is a viable municipal process and serves as the foundation of the Omaha area program,” says Jeff Wooster, Dow’s global sustainability leader. “As the largest resin provider to the packaging industry, we view plastic as a valuable resource and are excited to have the Omaha area collect plastics and recover the embedded energy.”
Recyclebank’s members can collect previously nonrecycled plastics, including chip bags, candy bar wraps and drink pouches, and place them in Hefty Energy Bags, which have been produced by Reynolds. The bags will be collected by haulers from regular recycling bins and carts. From there, the bags are sent to, and sorted at First Star Recycling’s processing facility and then shipped to Systech Environmental, where the bags and their contents will be converted into energy to make cement.
“At Hefty, we could not be more excited to help families in the Omaha area prevent unnecessary landfill waste,” says Matt Maurer, director of new products for Reynolds Consumer Products. “It’s through an extraordinary collaborative effort with all of our partners that we’re able to bring residents in the Omaha area this cutting-edge resource recovery program.”
“We are proud to offer our members an opportunity to completely change the way they think about their trash,” says Javier Flaim, Recyclebank CEO. “This program’s success has the potential to open doors for other communities to create similar recycling alternatives.”