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Tough-to-Recycle Metallized Polyethylene Liners Find Second Life in Decking

PAC Worldwide and Trex partnership yields CoolPAC, packaging’s first 100% recyclable thermal bubble liner products that can be dropped off at 32,000 store locations nationwide.

The insulated packaging for shipping that keeps products cool just became more sustainably cool, too, thanks to a recycling partnership between PAC Worldwide and Trex Company. 

“When our engineering team came up with a recyclable metal solution for cold chain, we immediately started thinking about how to bring it to market and educate the consumer,” said Jenifer Nelson, PAC Associate Director of Cold Chain Products. “The NexTrex program is an ideal vehicle because of the scale.”

Here are nine things to know about the liner-to-decking products recycling program, including what PlasticsToday learned in an exclusive interview with Nelson.

1. It’s an industry first.

PAC rolled out the packaging industry’s first fully approved, 100% recyclable thermal bubble liner with the debut of the CoolPAC line of products.

“To our knowledge, we are the first and only manufacturer of metallized liner approved for recycling in the nationwide NexTrex program,” Nelson tells PlasticsToday.

After the materials are recovered, Trex will convert the metallized bubble material into environmentally friendly outdoor decking and railing through the NextTrex recycling program.

Image from PAC Worldwide

2. The previous metallized liner was a multifilm composite that was nonrecyclable.

“PAC engineers developed a patent-pending solution made entirely from the same substrate,” says Nelson. “Like its predecessor, the new CoolPAC liner maintains temperatures for optimal product quality and safety.”

3. A range of CoolPAC products have been qualified.

These include box liners, pouches, roll stock, and pallet covers. The metallized bubble material protects packaged products such as meals, pharmaceuticals, flowers, cosmetics, and chocolates from harmful temperature swings.

4. Collection is nationwide and already underway at more than 32,000 locations across the United States.

You can find a list of participating stores and retailers including major national grocery chains as well as regional and specialty retailers here.

Image of  Trex Transcend decking and Trex Signature railing by Zack Benson

5. The partnership will increase the 400 million pounds of polyethylene film that Trex diverts from landfills yearly.

The PAC Worldwide and Trex agreement expands the nationwide NexTrex retail recycling program, about 95% of which provides the materials used to manufacture the composite decking and railing products.

6. At-store collection will look very similar to the way it looks now.

Consumers will be able to drop their items in the same bin that stores have set up for recyclables such as grocery bags, bread bags, ice bags, produce bags, case overwrap, newspaper sleeves, and more.

“The program is exclusively consumer-facing,” Nelson adds. We’re encouraging third-party logistics providers (3PL) to participate, but the program isn’t set up to accommodate industrial users. Those companies can contact Trex directly or work with their local recyclers.

7. The success of the PAC-Trex partnership hinges more on consumer education than supply chain advances.

“Now that we have the technology and distribution network to recycle this type of plastic film, the focus is on how to make it as simple and easy as possible for the consumer to engage,” Nelson says.

8. There are plenty of consumer supportive resources.

Online tools like geo-specific location finders for drop-off locations, attractive retail merchandising and multi-channel promotion will drive higher awareness and, ultimately, increased adoption.

9. Trex makes it easy for companies to get involved with the NexTrex program.

The company offers everything from competitive compensation for recycled plastic film to trailers for storage and shipment.

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