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US plastic film recycling reaches one billion pounds in 2011: Report

Plastic film recycling in the US increased 4% to reach one billion pounds annually in 2011 for the first time, according to a new report developed by Moore Recycling Associates.

The report developed, on behalf of the American Chemistry Council (ACC), revealed that plastic film category includes plastic bags, product wraps and commercial shrink film, and the recycling of plastic film has grown 55% since 2005.

In 2011, about 58% of US-recovered postconsumer film was consumed domestically compared to 53% in 2010, which is primarily due to growth in the plastic and composite lumber industry.

Postconsumer plastic film consumption by the film and sheet industry held steady at 100 million pounds, or 16% of the total market.

The industry is working to increase commercial as well as consumer participation in the film recycling process through ACC’s Flexible Film Recycling Group (FFRG), which represents resin producers, film converters, brand owners and recyclers.

ACC vice president of plastics Steve Russell said in-store collection is critical for recycling plastic bags, wraps and other flexible film packaging.

"The plastic film industry is now working to help grocers and retailers maximize the collection of this valuable material by sharing tools and best practices and through consistent customer education," Russell said.

According to ACC, more than 15,000 locations are available at present where consumers can recycle their used polyethylene bags and wraps, mainly at large grocery and retail chains across the US.