Plastic Film Recycling

If it was easy, it would already be done

Released in late 2016, the Comparative Case Study: Plastic Film Recycling at Two Simon Malls prepared by Ei on behalf of the Wrap Recycling Action Program, an American Chemistry Council Plastic-Film Recycling Group program, culminated in the completion of Ei’s work in plastic-film recycling.

The ZWA Blog article, Comparative Case Study: Plastic Film Recycling at Two Simon Malls, announces the case study release along with an overview of the plastic-film recycling-program development. The case study is available for download below:
A Comparative Case Study: Plastic Film Recycling at Two Simon Malls

Plastic-film recycling expertise is available via Ei Founder Holly Elmore’s private consulting practice at

Original Plastic-Film Recycling page copy:

With increasing volumes of plastic film used in consumer and commercial packaging, the quantity of film landfill bound is astonishing. Industry pioneers are called upon to forge the plastic-film frontier and craft new systems grounded in economics. Reduced landfill tipping costs coupled with recycling rebates are at the foundation of necessary infrastructure development.

Plastic film is a valuable commodity with recycling rebates often matching or exceeding OCC (old corrugated cardboard). Large commercial generators source-separate plastic film and sell the standard-sized bales weighing 700 – 1000 pounds in the commodities market. Thus, plastic film is a strong contributor to their recycling-profit centers.

In 2011 Ei Pioneers embarked on a commercial plastic-film-recycling journey targeted at moderate generators where standard-sized bale assembly was not practical. Development of a city-wide plastic-film recycling template was the intended destination.

In simplistic terms, the city-wide template pilot plan was to recruit 10 – 12 industry pioneers who generate a moderate amount of plastic film in their operations. Using a small baler, the pioneers collect and bale plastic film on-site for periodic collection. A local hauler collects and delivers the small bales to a warehouse. The small bales are re-baled into standard-sized larger bales and stored in an empty tractor trailer. Once full, the plastic film is sold by the tractor-trailer load as a raw material to a manufacturer.

HMSHost Milk Jug Recycling

A precursor to the plastic film recycling template was a successful milk-jug-recycling program at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the busiest airport in the world. Thanks to Ei Pioneer HMSHost’s perseverance, the Starbucks milk-jug-recycling program established mini-baler best practices. The ZWA Blog post, Milk Jugs Recycled at Atlanta Airport, announces the program launch. Note the Atlanta Airport is the Sustainable Food Court Initiative (SFCI) Airport Pilot.

Concord Mills (CM) Plastic Film Recycling

In August 2012 CM launched their successful plastic-film-recycling program using a mini baler. The film rebates, coupled with reduced landfill-tipping fees, covered the baler and labor cost and improved the bottom line. The ZWA Blog post, ACTION: Theme for SFCI Shopping Mall Pilot, announces the mall plastic-film-recycling program.

Comparative Case Study: Plastic-Film Recycling at Two Simon Malls prepared by Ei on behalf of the Wrap Recycling Action Program, an American Chemistry Council Plastic-Film Recycling Group program, was officially released at the 2016 Annual Ei Partner Meeting. The ZWA Blog article,  Comparative Case Study: Plastic-Film Recycling at Two Simon Malls, announces the case study release along with an overview of the plastic film recycling program development.

Fresh Point Plastic Film Recycling

FreshPoint (FP), the nation’s largest produce distributor, stepped forward as the lead Pilot Pioneer for the city-wide plastic-film-recycling template. A first action step was installing a mini baler at the FP Atlanta distribution center to bale the film generated in their operations.

In alignment with the CM shopping mall template, FP associates produced small plastic film bales that were collected by a hauler for consolidation into standard-sized bales.

The Ei Plastic-Film Recovery Pilot @ FreshPoint video gives an overview of the pilot along with new practices created for contaminant-free film collection.

Elemental Impact Plastic Film Recycling Pilot at FreshPoint Atlanta from Elemental Impact on Vimeo.

Georgia World Congress Center  Source-Separated Materials Recycling Template

When the Georgia Dome | Georgia World Congress Center, SFCI Event Venue Pilot, joined the Pioneer Team, the pilot template expanded beyond plastic film to encompass common recyclable materials: aluminum, mixed paper and PET. The goal was to create an on-site mini MRF at the GA Dome | GWCC.

Thus, the plastic-film-recycling template expanded to the Source-Separated Materials Recycling Template (S-SMRT). The website page details the game plan and lists blog articles that chronicle the work-in-progress. The Ei FB album, Source-Separated Materials Recycling: building a city-wide network, chronicles the template creation process.

Current Status: Due to unforeseen circumstances ranging from promotions to long-term illness to business model shifts to internal corporate politics, the S-SMRT was put on hold in early 2015. The foundation is built and ready for a new life at the perfect time!

Ei Plastic Film Recycling Documentation:

The comprehensive Ei FB album, Ei Plastic Film Recycling, chronicles the plastic film recycling work in a pictorial format.

The following Zero Waste in ACTION Blog articles document the action steps taken, challenges faced, lessons learned, and successes achieved:

HMSHost Milk Jug Recycling:

Concord Mills Pilot:

GWCC, evolution to the Source-Separated Materials Materials Recycling Template;

Ei Online Magazines