Hefty® EnergyBag™ FAQs
Q: What is the Hefty® EnergyBag™ program?
A: The Hefty® EnergyBag™ program is a groundbreaking initiative that collects previously non-recycled plastics at curbside and converts them into valuable energy resources. The Hefty® EnergyBag™ program is a significant step towards achieving positive long-term environmental and economic advantages, including alternative energy resources and fewer tons of plastics ending up in landfills. The program is complimentary to mechanical recycling.
Q: Why is there a need for this program?
A: In the U.S., people create 254 million tons of trash each year, and of that waste, approximately 134 million tons end up in landfills*. The Hefty® EnergyBag™ program is an important change in the way we handle waste. It demonstrates that resource recovery of non-recycled plastics is a viable municipal process that can achieve many positive long-term environmental and economic results, including fewer tons of landfill waste, more local energy resources and less fossil energy dependence.
Q: Where is the Hefty® EnergyBag™ program active?
A: The Hefty® EnergyBag™ program is currently underway in the Omaha area, where local haulers are collecting previously non-recycled plastics and sending them to facilities that convert the material into energy used to produce cement. With support from local mayors, the program demonstrates the feasibility of collecting non-recycled plastics, sorting them at local materials recycling facilities and effectively converting them into energy resources at energy conversion facilities – all via existing waste management infrastructure.
Q: What are the environmental benefits and impacts of the Hefty® EnergyBag™ program?
A: The Hefty® EnergyBag™ program provides many environmental and economic benefits, including:
- The diversion of valuable resources from landfills
- Waste is converted into alternative energy, which can be used to power businesses, cars and homes
- Existing recycling programs become more efficient by helping remove otherwise contaminated material from materials recovery facilities (MRFs)
- Reduction of fossil fuels extracted from the ground
- Converting plastics into alternative energy is a good way of helping the U.S. meet energy needs
- Potential cost savings by helping decrease waste management costs
- Increased consumer engagement in resource recovery and education
Q: What items are accepted in the Hefty® EnergyBag™ bright orange bags specifically designed for the Hefty® EnergyBag™ program?
A: There are many non-recycled plastics that can be collected in Hefty® EnergyBag™ bright orange bags that currently cannot be mechanically recycled:
- Potato chip bags and other snack bags
- Candy wrappers
- Granola bar and energy bar wrappers
- Plastic and foam cups, plates and bowls
- Shredded cheese packages
- Salad bags
- Plastic pet food bags
- Frozen fruit & vegetable bags
- Pudding cups
- Stand-up pouches
- Squeezable baby food pouches
- Foam to-go boxes
- Packing peanuts
- Plastic utensils
- Plastic straws and stirrers
- Cake mix liners and other dry powder mix liners
- Plastic toothpaste tubes
- Condiment packets
- All other non-recycled plastic bags
Our message is simple, if you’re able to recycle a plastic material in your regular curbside recycling program, then continue to do so. If you can’t, rather than throwing that plastic in the trash, put it in your Hefty® EnergyBag™ orange bags to be recovered as an alternative energy resource.
Q: What items should not be included in the Hefty® EnergyBag™ bright orange bags?
A: Do not put the following items in your orange bags:
- Aluminum & Steel Cans
- Water & Soda Bottles
- Paper & Cardboard
- Food & Other Packaging Contents
- Liquids of any kind
Remember, the Hefty® EnergyBag™ program does not replace your current curbside recycling program; it is a revolutionary program that converts previously non-recycled plastics into energy. Please continue to recycle cans, bottles, jugs and newspapers where available, and continue to support store drop-off programs for other recyclable items such as plastic shopping bags, newspaper bags and dry cleaning bags.
Q: What happens to the Hefty® EnergyBag™ orange bags once they are collected?
A: After residents’ current haulers pick up the bags, they are sent to and sorted by a local materials recovery facility (MRF). The MRF then bales the bags and sends them to a local energy recovery facility, which converts the plastics into valuable energy sources through the use of plastic-to-energy technologies. Dow is working with industry groups to research and test other mechanical recycling and recovery options as a compliment to the Hefty® EnergyBag™ program.
Q: Why can’t residents recycle these plastics in typical curbside pickup programs?
A: Packaging can be very complex. Many forms of plastic packaging are made up of multiple layers of different materials that serve individual purposes. The complexity of plastic packaging makes it challenging to recycle mechanically in existing recycling facilities. In addition, most material recovery facilities (MRFs) do not have the proper types of equipment to sort flexible packaging, so including flexible packaging with other recyclables reduces the efficiency of the recycling operation. The Hefty® EnergyBag™ program makes it possible for these materials to be collected at curbside and provides an alternative to sending the products to landfills. The Hefty® EnergyBag™ program also reduces contamination in MRFs, helping to increase efficiency and improve the quality of other complementary recycling streams.
* Source: EPA Advancing Sustainable Materials Management: Facts and Figures Report: 2014 Fact Sheet
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