Wegmans Joins Plastic Film Recycling Group
Wegmans Food Markets, Inc. has become a member of the American Chemistry Council’s (ACC) Flexible Film Recycling Group (FFRG). Wegmans is the first retailer to join the FFRG, a self-funded group in Washington, D.C.-based ACC’s plastics division dedicated to boosting polyethylene film recovery.
The grocer’s stores have collected used plastic bags for recycling since 1994, and its shoppers return about 1.5 million pounds of polyethylene film every year. Wegmans also collects another 1.5 million pounds of plastic stretch/shrinkwrap from shipping pallets. The plastics are then used to make the company’s 40 percent recycled-content grocery bags, in addition to durable backyard decking products.
“From plastics recycling to greener store designs, Wegmans’ commitment to sustainability is widely recognized,” said FFRG Director Shari Jackson. “As the first retail grocer member of the Flexible Film Recycling Group, the company will have valuable insights into programs to increase the recycling of plastic bags and wraps.”
“Recycling of plastic bags and film is one effective way to address environmental concerns,” added Jason Wadsworth, sustainability coordinator at Rochester, N.Y-based Wegmans, a family-owned company with more than 80 stores in the eastern United States. “Because of our closed-loop system, bags and film that customers return for recycling at our stores are made into new Wegmans bags, not litter.”
FFRG membership consists of companies along the polyethylene film value chain, among them resin suppliers, film product manufacturers, brand owners and recyclers. The group aims to significantly increase the collection and recycling of all flexible films and to educate the public on the importance of recycling.
Recycling of post-consumer plastic bags, product wraps and commercial shrink film reached 1 billion pounds in 2011, a 55 percent increase from 2005, according to the latest “National Postconsumer Plastic Bag & Film Recycling Report.”
“While this is an important achievement, the FFRG believes more can be done to spur significant growth in plastics film recycling,” noted Jackson. “This is why we’re working so determinedly to help grocers and retailers, which have the critical infrastructure for recycling plastic film, to maximize the collection of this valuable material by sharing tools, best practices and through consistent customer education.”
FFRG members also include Sealed Air Corp. and SC Johnson.