WINCHESTER, Virginia – Plastic film plays a critical role in the packaging and transportation of many consumer goods, but it also presents a considerable challenge to manufacturers looking to reduce waste and their carbon footprints. How does a company ensure that its plastic used to package and transport its goods ends up being recycled, instead of in a landfill?
It starts with assessing the plastic package/film composition for recyclability, the risk of remaining product contamination in the package/film after use, and the risk of contamination for non-recyclable “look-a-like” packages/films. To help manufacturers overcome this hurdle, Trex Company, which manufactures wood-alternative decking and railing, is offering free recyclability testing to packaging engineers, manufacturers, and brand owners through its NexTrex Recycling Program.
Each year, Trex diverts more than 400 million pounds of plastic film, bags and wrap from landfills and uses it to manufacture composite decking, which is made from 95 percent recycled material. Among its largest sources are retailers and makers of consumer packaged goods who partner with Trex to responsibly dispose of plastic shopping bags and polyethylene film used to wrap products and pallets. This testing validates whether the material is capable of being recycled in the Trex recycling stream.
“Trex invented composite decking more than 25 years ago as a way to reduce waste generated from plastic bags,” explained Dave Heglas, senior director of material management for Trex Company. “Today, we are one of the largest recyclers of plastic film in North America and a leader in educating and engaging both the commercial and consumer sectors in recycling efforts.”
To help brands determine whether their packaging qualifies for the NexTrex Recycling Program, Trex will test select packaging items for free. Packaging designers, producers, and brand owners can simply send in a packaged product sample and Trex will provide them with a comprehensive report assessing three areas for acceptance: package/film recyclability, affect/risk of product contamination, and affect/risk of non-recyclable “look-a-like” package contamination, so that they can make adjustments as needed to meet recyclability standards and/or select appropriate recycling method.
Trex will analyze a wide variety of packaging and film, including:
- Distribution/manufacturing film-stretch
- Grocery and retail bags
- Bread and produce bags
- Case overwraps
- Dry cleaning bags/film
- Newspaper sleeves
- Ice and salt bags
- Ziploc and other reclose-able bags
- Flexible PE e-commerce mailers
- PE packaging, such as bubble wrap and foam
- Heat sheets
- Cereal box liners
- Wood pellet bags
- Carpet overwrap
- Mattress bags
“By giving recycled plastic film a second life as high-performance, low-maintenance composite decking, Trex is providing a solution to manufacturers’ plastic waste problems,” said Heglas. “Our free testing program is intended to encourage more manufacturers to participate and take advantage of this ‘win-win’ scenario, while ensuring that the plastic we are collecting meets our high standards for production.”
Once packaging samples have been tested and approved by Trex, companies may qualify for a Trex Commercial Recycling Partnership. In addition to providing competitive compensation for recycled materials, Trex works with its recycling partners to make the collection and transportation of materials as easy as possible.
“We are proud to offer a viable solution for our country’s growing supply of plastic content,” noted Heglas. “The U.S. needs more end markets for recycled materials. Through our NexTrex Recycling Program, we hope to lead by example and inspire others to find ways to be part of the solution.”