Plastic Film Recycling Dear Ashby
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Dear Ashby: Can Plastic Film or Bags be Recycled Like Other Plastics?

Welcome to the second edition of Dear Ashby, a series of blog posts designed to answer some of the most frequently ask questions (FAQs) we receive from customers about recycling and waste stream management. Today’s topic is plastic film, bag and banding recycling – What is it? How is it the same or different from other plastic recycling? And, how do you decide if it makes sense for your business?

The first most common question we receive regarding plastic film and banding recycling is…

Are plastic film, plastic bags and plastic banding recyclable?

Plastic is one of the easiest materials to process and reuse, yet research shows that 91% of plastic isn’t recycled. There are seven different types of plastics defined for recycling by the Plastic Resin Identification Code, which includes plastic film, bags, and banding.

Plastic film is thin polyethylene plastic used for wraps, packaging or commercial and retail bags – sometimes called stretch film. Plastic banding is used to secure materials for transport and shipping. When produced in large quantities, plastic film and plastic banding can be baled, stored and shipped for purchase to be recycled and used in making future products. For example, plastic film can be recycled into pellets and reprocessed into plastic lumber or slip sheets.

Plastic film and banding can be stored by your business until enough is accumulated to be baled and sold as a commodity to recyclers. Waste and recycling service providers, like Rubicon, keep an eye on commodity market values and work with local vendors to ensure your business gets the best return on your discarded plastics. Aside from potential revenue opportunities, recycling plastic can help you drive brand affinity for demonstrating sustainable practices. It’s good for your business, and good for the world.

Another common question we receive is…

How do I know if plastic film, bag or banding recycling makes sense for my business?

To determine if plastic film, bag and/or banding recycling is right for your business, you must first analyze your waste stream. For example, wholesale distributors find nearly 4 percent of their waste stream consists of industrial plastic packaging and film. This material could be taking up large amounts of valuable space in your garbage dumpsters if it’s not managed and recycled correctly – not to mention its harmful effects on the environment. And your business could be missing out on resale value into commodity markets.

Industries that generate large amounts of plastic film, like the wrap you find around pallets, may require a baler in order to sell the plastic in a mill-ready form. For office buildings, a simple break room bin might do the trick. Rubicon works with each individual customer to develop a customized plastic film, bag, and banding recycling plan, including the necessary containers and equipment. And if you’re in a state with recycling requirements, Rubicon will ensure your program is set to regulatory standards or higher.

Got more questions related to plastic film, bag and banding recycling, or other waste streams? Download our Waste Stream Management Guide or tune in to the next edition of Dear Ashby.

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