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Connecticut Joins "WRAP" Initiative to Boost Plastic Film Recycling

WASHINGTON, DC--(Marketwired - Jun 21, 2016) -  Connecticut's Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) and the American Chemistry Council's (ACC) Flexible Film Recycling Group (FFRG) today announced a public-private partnership that will increase opportunities for residents and businesses to recycle flexible film packaging1. Flexible plastic film -- which includes consumer and commercial product wraps; bags for groceries, produce and bread; and common items, such as sealable food storage bags and shipping pillows -- is one of the fastest growing areas of recycling today.

"Recapturing and recycling more plastic bags and flexible film packaging material will reduce solid waste disposal costs, reduce the contamination of other materials contained in single-stream recycling bins, and create jobs right here in Connecticut," said DEEP Commissioner Robert Klee. "This strategy is also one of many action-oriented steps we can take to meet the goal outlined in our draft Comprehensive Materials Management Strategy of increasing the state's diversion rate to 60% by 2024."

"We are very pleased Connecticut has become a partner of our Wrap Action Recycling Program (WRAP)," said Shari Jackson, director of the FFRG. "WRAP will provide tools and best practices to support DEEP's community outreach and education efforts to increase the recycling of plastic film."

A major focus of the new partnership will be to increase voluntary participation in the recycling of plastic bags, wraps and other film packaging at supermarkets, grocery stores and other retail locations. Encouraging Connecticut's retailers to offer this opportunity -- and building greater public awareness of it -- will reduce the volume of plastic bags and film inappropriately deposited in curbside recycling containers.

"Cleaning up our single stream recycling and making our recyclables more marketable is a very high priority," said Commissioner Klee. "Plastic bags and other film packaging are recyclable and have real value -- just not in our curbside bins. Residents should bring plastic bags and other polyethylene (PE) film material to participating retailers, such as grocery stores, which have established collection programs to maintain the quality of film for recycling. Our partnership with ACC's WRAP program will strengthen that recycling network and make more people aware of it."

Recycled PE film can be used to manufacture products such as durable outdoor lumber for decks and fences, and new packaging materials.

Connecticut follows Wisconsin and North Carolina in becoming the third state partner of WRAP. 

Successful WRAP initiatives can be seen in the states of Washington and Wisconsin, which have demonstrated that greater awareness of store drop-off programs helps reduce film contamination in curbside bins and at local materials recovery facilities (MRFs).

In Vancouver, Washington, the WRAP campaign helped to more than double collection of plastic film packaging through return-to-retail recycling programs, according to a new case study conducted with the City of Vancouver's Environmental Resources Division. The study also found a 75 percent decrease in plastic bag contamination at a local MRF.

[WATCH: Vancouver, Washington Plastic Film Wrap Recycling Program Gets Big Results]

Plastic film is one of the fastest growing areas of recycling with collection growing 79% since 2005. At least 1.17 billion pounds of postconsumer film was recovered in 2014, and the recycling rate grew to 17 percent.

The FFRG, a collaboration working to double the recycling of post-use polyethylene film by 2020, represents materials suppliers, brand owners, manufacturers, and recyclers. In Connecticut, the partners include municipalities, waste authorities, recycling processors, haulers and retailers. To learn more about which plastic film items are acceptable, visit www.plasticfilmrecycling.org. To learn more about participating in Connecticut's WRAP initiative, please contact Sherill Baldwin at 860-424-3440.

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The American Chemistry Council (ACC) represents the leading companies engaged in the business of chemistry. ACC members apply the science of chemistry to make innovative products and services that make people's lives better, healthier and safer. ACC is committed to improved environmental, health and safety performance through Responsible Care®, common sense advocacy designed to address major public policy issues, and health and environmental research and product testing. The business of chemistry is an $801 billion enterprise and a key element of the nation's economy. It is the nation's largest exporter, accounting for fourteen percent of all U.S. exports. Chemistry companies are among the largest investors in research and development. Safety and security have always been primary concerns of ACC members, and they have intensified their efforts, working closely with government agencies to improve security and to defend against any threat to the nation's critical infrastructure.

1 E.g., carryout bags, bread bags, produce bags, dry cleaning bags; overwraps for beverage cases, napkins, paper towel; shipping pillows, bubble wrap, etc.