Hefty® EnergyBag® FAQs

Q: What is the Hefty® EnergyBag® program?

A: The Hefty® EnergyBag® program is a groundbreaking initiative that collects previously hard to recycle 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: How does the program work?

A: There is no need to sign up! Participating households just place their hard to recycle plastics in Hefty® EnergyBag® orange bags. Once full, residents tie the bags and place them in their curbside carts or bins during their regularly-scheduled recycling pick-up.

Participants' current haulers pick up the tied orange bags along with their recycling and send them to a local materials recovery facility for sorting. The materials recovery facility then bales the bags and sends them to a local energy recovery facility, where the plastics are converted into valuable energy resources.


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. It is important to make sure the items are relatively clean and dry. 


• Chip and snack bags

• Plastic pet food bags

• Fruit, vegetable & salad bags


• Foam cups, plates & bowls

• Foam to-go boxes

• Packing peanuts


• Straws, stirrers, utensils, cups, plates & bowls


• Shredded cheese packages

• Cake mix liners & other dry powder mix liners

• Granola bar, energy bar & candy wrappers

• Condiment packets

• Pudding cups

• Food Wrap


• Stand-up pouches

• Squeezable baby food pouches

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:

  • Hard-to-recycle plastics that are not dry or clean
  • 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

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: 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 of the Hefty® EnergyBag® program?

A: The Hefty® EnergyBag® program takes an important step toward a more circular plastics economy and a more sustainable future and is clearly demonstrating its ability to:

  • help divert these resources away from landfills
  • reduce dependence on fossil fuels
  • increase efficiency at recycling facilities
  • improve the quality of other recycled materials


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

A: Some plastic packaging can be hard to recycle because of the type and complexity of the material, the shape and flexibility, and because of the challenges that they create for the sorting equipment at the recycling facility. Many forms of packaging are made of multiple layers that each serve a different purpose. Because these layers can't be separated, they can't be recycled in their existing form. Things like flexible packaging and small items that are made of non-recyclable plastics can end up clogging or falling through the sorting equipment or end up in the wrong recycling stream. This contaminates good recyclable material which can devalue those resources or cause them to be unusable and end up in the landfill. The Hefty® EnergyBag® program provides an alternative, enabling these hard to recycle materials to be used in other ways and avoid to sending them to the landfill.

Another reason some plastics are not accepted for recycling is that there is currently no end market.


* 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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