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. It is complimentary to mechanical recycling.


Q: What items are accepted in the Hefty® EnergyBag® bright orange bags?

A: You can include many plastic items that cannot be recycled in your existing recycling program, such as:

  • 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
  • Glass
  • Food & Other Packaging Contents
  • Liquids of any kind
  • Medical plastic products
  • Hazardous waste
  • Hoses, tubes or rope

Remember, the Hefty® EnergyBag® program does not replace your current curbside recycling program; it is a revolutionary program that converts hard-to-recycle 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: Where is the Hefty® EnergyBag® program active?

A: The Hefty® EnergyBag® program is currently underway in the Omaha, Nebraska area, where hard-to-recycle plastics are being collected and converted into valuable energy resources. The program launched September 2016 as a permanent option for 6,000 local households. Since then, the program has expanded to include 2,500 additional Omaha households and 550 households in Louisville, Nebraska. Firstar Fiber, the materials recovery facility that services the Omaha area, has committed to permanently offering the program and is encouraging local municipalities and independent haulers to join the effort.


Q: What happens to the Hefty® EnergyBag® orange bags once they are collected?

A: After your current hauler picks up your tied orange bags along with your regular recycling, the orange bags are then sent to and separated at the pre-sort area of your local materials recovery facility. The materials recovery facility then bales the bags and sends them to a local energy recovery facility, where plastics are converted into valuable energy sources.


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, over half ends 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: What are the 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
  • The conversion of waste into alternative energy, which can be used to power businesses, cars and homes
  • An increase in efficiency of existing mechanical recycling programs through a reduction in the amount of non-recycled materials sent to materials recovery facilities - improving the quality of recycled materials, such as paper and cardboard
  • Potential cost savings that aid in the decrease of waste management costs
  • The reduction of fossil fuels extracted from the ground
  • Increased consumer engagement and education in resource recovery


Q: Why can’t residents recycle these plastics in typical curbside pickup programs?

A: It can be challenging to recycle plastic packaging because of its complexity – many forms of packaging are made of multiple layers that each serve a different purpose. Most material recovery facilities don’t have the proper equipment to sort all types of packaging, so including plastic packaging with your other recyclables reduces the efficiency of the recycling operation. The Hefty® EnergyBag® program makes it possible for your non-recycled materials to be collected curbside, and provides an alternative to sending them to landfills.


* Source: EPA Advancing Sustainable Materials Management: Facts and Figures Report: 2014 Fact Sheet


Still have questions? Contact us or read more about the Hefty® EnergyBag® Program in the press. Go back to the Hefty® EnergyBag® homepage.


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