The recycling of plastic film has grown by more than 50 percent since 2005 and reached one billion pounds annually for the first time in 2011. But what exactly is it?
Sometimes called stretch film, plastic film is a thin polyethylene plastic that may carry a #2 HDPE or #4 LDPE mark. Plastic film and wrap covers a wider variety of the same recyclable materials found in plastic bags, but while plastic bags are more associated with grocery and retail shopping, plastic film includes items such as Ziploc® brand bags, newspaper bags, furniture and electronic wrap and bread bags.
The good news is that almost all plastic films and bags are 100 percent recyclable. Generally speaking, if plastic film stretches when you pull it with your fingers, it can be recycled.
However, most curbside pickup programs do not accept plastic film and bags, since they must be clean and dry to be recycled and it’s hard to keep them clean when they mingle other recyclables, such as bottles.
No need to worry, however, since chances are a recycling location is not only nearby, it may be somewhere you shop. A recent study found that more than 91 percent of the U.S. population has access to plastic bag recycling and nearly 75 percent has access to plastic film recycling.
Drop-off locations can usually be found at your favorite grocery store or retailers like Wal-Mart and Target. Retailers have been recycling film and bag material for more than two decades, benefiting from revenue generated by selling scrap material, which can end up as composite lumber used for fences, benches, decks, door and window frames, and even playground equipment.
If you want to find the closest drop-off location before you leave the house, all you have to do is visit the Drop Off Directory and enter your zip code.
Many household brands, such as Ziploc® brand, have been working to make it easier. For example, Ziploc® brand updated their packaging to include new How2Recycle labels that call out information about how Ziploc® brand bags and the packaging itself can be recycled. The How2Recycle logos indicate whether the box can be recycled with other paper goods, if the plastic bags are recyclable with plastic products at store drop-offs and even include special instructions such as “Recycle if Clean & Dry.”
Learn more about plastic bag recyclability and the recycling efforts of Ziploc® brand at www.Ziploc.com/Sustainability.