Dow, Reynolds partner to convert recycled plastic into energy

Hefty Energy Bag, a unique program designed to convert previously non-recycled plastics into energy, recently launched in the Omaha area. Plastics collected through the program will be sorted at a local recycling facility and converted into energy used in cement production. The program’s initial phase could divert an estimated 36 tons of previously non-recycled plastic from Omaha area landfills, equivalent to the use of 50 tons of coal. The program is a collaborative effort between The Dow Chemical Company, Reynolds Consumer Products, Recyclebank, First Star Recycling, Conagra Foods and Systech Environmental Corporation.

Based on the success of a 2014 Energy Bag Pilot in Citrus Heights, Calif., the Hefty Energy Bag program launches its first phase for 6,000 existing Recyclebank members in the Omaha area. The program will deliver the Hefty Energy Bags to participating households the week of September 19th with collection beginning with customers’ next regularly scheduled recycling pick-up.

“The Energy Bag Pilot demonstrated resource recovery of non-recycled plastics is a viable municipal process and serves as the foundation of the Omaha area program,” said Jeff Wooster, global sustainability leader, Dow. “As the largest resin provider to the packaging industry, we view plastic as a valuable resource and are excited to have the Omaha area collect plastics and recover the embedded energy.”

Using Hefty Energy Bags – bright orange bags produced by Reynolds Consumer Products – Recyclebank’s members in the Omaha area can collect previously non-recycled plastics, including chip bags, candy bar wraps and drink pouches. Instead of putting these items in a landfill, consumers will now be able to toss these plastics into the Hefty Energy Bags, which local haulers will collect from regular recycling bins and carts. From there, the bags are sent to, and sorted at a local First Star Recycling facility and passed along to Systech Environmental Corporation where the bags and all their contents will be converted into energy to make cement.

The Omaha area was selected to host the Hefty Energy Bag program because of the committed participants that exist in the area. First Star Recycling provides the program with a seamless sorting process, Recyclebank offers its existing member base of Omaha area residents and Conagra Foods supports viable options for recovering value from used packaging. These local collaborators serve as great advocates for the program.

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