Plastic bags tend to get a bad reputation in the United States. Many material recovery facilities MRFs across North America view them as contamination because they get tangled in sorting equipment.

Yet, Novolex, Hartsville, South Carolina, sees opportunity to close the loop on plastic bags. The company started its BagBag recycling program in to reduce the amount of litter caused by plastic bags and to turn those old Janu Company into new bags at its Novolex Hilex Poly recycling center in North Vernon, Indiana, or its recycling facility in Shawano, Wisconsin. The company also has about a half dozen other recycling partners to help.

Through BagBag, Novolex connects with grocery stores and other retailers. The recycling center then processes the used bags into recycled pellets. The pellets are used to manufacture new plastic bags. Novolex contracts with a few regional Novolex Bag Company national retail chains in the U. These retailers will collect and bale plastic bags and plastic packaging film from consumers and their warehouses. A retailer informs Novolex when it has a trailer full of plastic bag and film bales, and Novolex hires a firm to haul the trailer to one of its facilities or recycling facility partners.

Some partners are on the West Coast, some are in the central U. Once Novolex receives the bales, Rozenski says the company or its partners load them into a bale breaker. It then gets shredded. One common contaminant is grocery store receipts. To remove the receipts, Novolex places the shredded polyethylene PE into a tank. The PE floats, while the receipts and any other contaminants sink. From there, Novolex performs an extrusion process and turns the PE film into pellets.

Finally, those pellets are used as feedstock for plastic bag products. Some are higher, some are lower. To ensure contamination remains low in bales, Novolex regularly communicates with its retail chain partners.

Rozenski says the company works with partners to educate them and their employees on what is considered contamination. Through the BagBag program, Novolex can accept plastic retail bags, produce bags, newspaper bags, dry cleaning bags, cereal box liners, paper towel film wrap, toilet paper film wrap, wrap on cases of soda and canned vegetables, sealed air pouches in mailed packages and Ziploc or other zipper-style bags provided the zippers are removed prior to recycling. The program does not accept salad bags, frozen vegetable bags, pet food bags, polyvinyl chloride, polystyrene, polyurethane foam, polypropylene, polyethylene terephthalate trays, plastic bottles, metals or potentially hazardous materials, such as medical waste.

Novolex Bag Company says the quality of bales Novolex receives is typically good; however, some level Stereo Company contamination is usually present. If the company notices a Novolex Bag Company, it works to educate the retail location. If we find something, we work with that retailer to educate employees not to Novolex Bag Company that in there, and it changes. Once the retailer understands that gray or brown bags communicate sustainability, they get it.

Toggle navigation. Bring back the bag. Photos courtesy of Novolex.

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