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New Water-Treatment System at Novolex Improves Recycling Capacity and Quality

Image: Bowonpat/Adobe Stock plastic retail bags
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.

Novolex, a manufacturer of packaging and foodservice products, is investing in a new water-treatment system at the company’s North Vernon, IN, recycling facility that will increase capacity to recycle plastic retail bags and other films collected through in-store drop-off programs. Novolex expects to increase recycling capacity by more than 500,000 pounds per year through this improvement.

Consumers can bring back plastic retail bags, as well as produce bags, bread bags, newspaper bags, cereal bags, mailers, and dry cleaning and other polyethylene films commonly used to package retail goods.

The North Vernon recycling center processes plastics collected through a North American network of store drop-off collection points, commonly found at grocery stores and other retailers. Collected bags and film are then gathered into bales and transported to the Novolex recycling center, which washes and processes them into resin pellets.

Novolexstore drop-off label

Novolex partners with retailers to have polyethylene film and bags marked with the Store Drop-off logo, which has increased consumer awareness of the types of materials that can be recycled through this program.

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. This is particularly important as demand from retailers for plastic bags made with higher percentages of post-consumer recycled content continues to increase, said Novolex.

“Because Novolex is both a manufacturer and a recycler, we have a unique role in the plastics circular economy,” said Troy Cook, Plant Manager. “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.”

Novolex is also a supporter of the How2Recycle program, and partners with retailers to have polyethylene 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,” said 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.”

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