A million pounds of anything is impressive, but when it’s that many pounds of lightweight plastics that’s even more remarkable. On March 5, Reynolds Consumer Products of Lake Forest, IL, announced a monumental milestone for its groundbreaking Hefty EnergyBag program. The innovative program, stemming from the brand's commitment to helping create end-of-life solutions for plastic waste across the United States, has officially diverted over one million pounds of hard-to-recycle plastics from landfills.
National Geographic estimates that as of 2017, 79% of plastic waste in the United States ends up in landfills, which includes hard-to-recycle plastics such as candy wrappers, packing peanuts, straws and foam carry-out containers. The Hefty EnergyBag program gives consumers in participating markets the ability to collect these hard-to-recycle items and see them converted into valuable resources rather than getting taken out with the trash.
"We’re proud of surpassing our ambitious goal of diverting one million pounds in just three years," said Lindsey Walter, Director of the program. "We’re grateful to the many people and communities out there who have embraced this program as something we can all do together to make our world a little bit better."
In partnership with Dow and other community collaborators, the Hefty EnergyBag program was set up to complement existing recycling programs, allowing hard-to-recycle plastics to be picked up at curbside.
It’s really pretty simple.
Participants simply place hard-to-recycle plastics in the Hefty orange bag, tie the bag when full and place it in their curbside recycling cart or bin. Once collected, the plastics are converted into valuable resources including fuel and new plastic products like park benches, composite decking and concrete blocks. The signature bright orange bags used for collection make it easy for recycling facilities to separate and forward the materials they cannot process, so the hard-to-recycle plastics don't contaminate other recycling streams.
"We're grateful for Hefty's partnership and their ability to help galvanize people so that we all can do our part to help minimize hard-to-recycle waste by converting it into valuable resources," said Julie Zaniewski, Dow's North America sustainability director for Packaging & Specialty Plastics. "We're encouraged by people's desire to be a part of the program and the impressive growth it has seen thus far."
Since inception in Omaha, NE, in 2016, the EnergyBag program has expanded to 13 communities across the United States, making it available to more than 500,000 households. The most recent US program began in Lincoln, NE, in July 2019. A more recent program was started in London, Canada, in October/November 2019.
"Though the EnergyBag program on its own cannot eliminate all the issues associated with plastic waste, we are proud to have created a mechanism that allows people to do their part in partnership with us," said Walter. "We have aggressive expansion goals and are working to identify more end uses of the materials as quickly as possible."
Consumers can learn more about the Hefty EnergyBag program, including whether their community participates, and can also sign up to request the program in their city, by visiting www.heftysustainability.com.