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Dow and WM Tackle Curbside Plastic Film Recycling

Image courtesy of WM Waste-Management-Dow-residential-wheeling-wm-toter-wave_770x400.jpg
Pilot program in Illinois brings film recycling into neighborhoods for convenient curbside pickup.
When the new neighborhood recycling program is operating at scale, it’s expected to divert 132,277 tons of plastic film from landfills annually.

Dow and WM (formerly Waste Management) are launching a household curbside recycling program for plastic film in the US, starting with a pilot program in Hickory Hills, IL.

The pilot, which will include about 3,500 households, will collect hard-to-recycle post-consumer plastic films such as bread bags, cling wrap, and dry-cleaning bags.

The companies plan to expand the program across the US, filling a significant gap in plastic collection and recycling. Currently, most consumers who recycle plastic film must bring them to drop-off locations at grocery stores and other retailers.

According to a white paper from The Recycling Partnership, “The total number of households with some type of access to recycle [polyethylene] film at the curb is estimated to be 2,349,767. This equates to roughly 1% of all US households, or 3% of households with access to curbside recycling.”

When the new curbside program is operating at full capacity, WM expects to divert more than 120,000 metric tons/132,277 tons of plastic film from landfills each year.

Dow will support the project by incorporating recycled plastic film into its products. “Enabling a circular economy requires broad stakeholder collaboration, innovation, and investment throughout the value chain to continue to more rapidly develop and advance solutions at scale,” says Jim Fitterling, Dow chairman and CEO. “Through our collaboration with WM, we’re determined to launch new programs that grow recycling infrastructure and access nationwide, creating a more comprehensive system where films and flexible plastics form a key pillar of our circular product offerings.”

WM predicts its film recycling service will be available to 8% of US households by 2025.

In addition to leading film collection and processing in the pilot programs, WM will be on the lookout for film recycling opportunities across the US. WM predicts its film recycling service will be available to 8% of US households by 2025.

“By providing residential customers with a simple, curbside option for recycling plastic films, we will not only help our customers more easily manage their used plastic film products, but also meet the rising demand for recycled-content products,” says Jim Fish, WM president and CEO.

“We recognize that to continue to meet and exceed our sustainability goals, we need to continue to expand our circularity solutions,” he adds. “We see tremendous untapped potential to recycle and reuse plastic film, which many of our residential customers struggle to properly dispose.”

In the next three years, WM plans to invest more than $800 million in improving recycling infrastructure, including specialized technology to enable plastic film sorting.

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