While retail locations provide the best collection points for post-consumer film plastics, governments and haulers play a crucial role in ensuring a successful program, according to speakers on a recent webinar.
Local governments have various communications channels through which to communicate with the public, and they have local credibility, said Becky Curtis, recycling assistant at the Department of Public Works in Milwaukee.
“When the community hears from us, it makes a difference in their behavior,” she said.
Curtis was participating in a webinar hosted by the U.S. EPA and focused on best practices to improve film recycling. The July 16 webinar also included Shari Jackson, director of film recycling at the American Chemistry Council’s (ACC) Plastics Division, and Nina Butler, managing director of Moore Recycling Associates.
The webinar focused on the efforts of the Wrap Recycling Action Program (WRAP), a project started in 2014 by the Flexible Film Recycling Group at ACC. Moore Recycling Associates helps manage the WRAP effort.
The WRAP project partnered with Milwaukee to boost film recycling. In 2014, collection bins and signs were installed at 10 Roundy’s Supermarkets locations in Milwaukee and nearby suburbs, Curtis said. Signs told consumers that films should not be placed in curbside bins and gave examples of the types of films to be deposited in store collection bins.
In addition, 4,000 fliers were sent to the stores to be placed in customers’ bags at check-out, she said. Stores already commonly communicate with customers using that method, so it was easy to incorporate the fliers into the process. Customer surveys showed the project increased awareness about where – and which types of – films can be recycled, Curtis said.
WRAP counts among its partners four retailers, one state government, 20 local governments/communities and two materials recovery facilities, Jackson said.
“Success really depends on state and municipal governments becoming more engaged and involved,” she said.
Across the country, 18,000 stores accept films for recycling, Jackson said.
The U.S. recovery rate for plastic bags, wraps and sacks was about 13.5 percent in 2013, according to EPA estimates.