New partnership to bring more bag ban compliant reusable plastic bags to groceries

Pete Grande, CEO of Command Packaging, doesn't believe the plastic grocery bag is outdated. It just needed an upgrade.

"Contrary to what many have been led to believe, plastic grocery bags are not going out of style; we're innovating ways to make them better and changing age-old perceptions about their shortcomings," Grande said.

The company just announced a new partnership with Bunzl Distribution USA to bring its smarterbags - bag ban compliant reusable plastic bags - to grocers in areas where bag bans have eliminated the "plastic t-shirt bags." Bunzl Distribution owns and operates more than 100 warehouses that serve all 50 states and Puerto Rico, as well as Canada, the Caribbean and parts of Mexico.

"Not only are smarterbags a great solution for us because they're affordable, easy to use and durable, but they're also sustainable. They're manufactured here in California with recycled plastic agricultural film that otherwise would end up in a landfill," said Terry Frank, senior VP of Bunzl Distribution USA. "It's important to us that we give our customers an opportunity to reduce, reuse and recycle whenever we can."

Back in September, PlasticsToday talked with Command Packaging about its opening of Encore Recycling. The new 200,000-sq-ft agricultural plastic recycling facility in Salinas, CA is scheduled to begin operations in October 2013.

Encore Recycling will immediately add 40 manufacturing jobs in an area of California the company says has been hard hit by the economic downturn. The company will employ more than 100 full-time workers and plans to grow to a staff of nearly 500 full-time employees.

Lots of California produce is grown in Salinas. One major California crop is strawberries, which require a lot of plastic in the growing process. Grande said that Salinas is central to much of this discarded plastic and that they believe this new recycling facility will provide a sustainable business model to the on-going environmental problem, while at the same time provide an economic benefit for both the farmer, the grocer, the consumer, and its employees. 

Encore Recycling will partner with growers to collect, wash, and recycle the more than 100 million lb of agricultural plastic that is currently being disposed of in California landfills every year. Since Command is in the bag business, its primary products produced with the recycled material will continue to be bags. The facility will turn the plastic into reusable bags called smarterbagsfor the California grocery market, which can be reused more than 100 times.

"The reality is that plastic is a necessary part of our everyday lives," Grande said. "Since plastic is here to stay we have to stop talking about banning plastic and start talking about how to take advantage of 'smarter plastic.'"  

Products that are made from "smarter plastic" are products that employ the three "R's": reduce, reuse and recycle. So what Command calls smarterbags are plastic grocery sacks that are reusable, made from recycled agricultural plastic and can be recycled at the end of life.

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