Pennsylvania community first to take flexible packaging in curbside carts

The pilot program being run at J.P. Mascaro and Sons’ MRF is expected to produce data for the industry on how to capture the material and identify end markets.

J.P. Mascaro and Sons has chosen Pottstown, Pennsylvania, as the first community where it will collect and sort flexible plastic packaging (FPP) in the existing curbside recycling program. The move is part of a high-profile pilot that could have much broader implications.

Mascaro sent fliers to residents this week informing them of the change, which takes effect immediately. The list of acceptable packaging includes dozens of items such as grocery bags, bread bags, dog food bags, shrink wrap, cheese pouches, zip-top storage bags, bubble wrap, detergent pouches, snack food bags and drink pouches.

Mascaro is able to accept the packaging because of sorting equipment upgrades, which were funded by a $2.6 million grant from industry consortium Materials Recovery for the Future (MRFF). The program launched last summer with an announcement from Van Dyk Recycling Solutions that it would provide equipment upgrades, including advanced optical sorters, for Mascaro’s TotalRecycle MRF in Berks County.

Logistics

The pilot is expected to produce data to show municipalities and the recycling industry that FPP can be practically and economically managed in curbside streams. Mascaro, according to corporate director of communications Frank Sau, hopes to expand FPP collection to up to four more communities by 2020.

Although the program was deemed a two-year pilot at its inception, Sau told Waste Dive he anticipates this will be a long-term commitment considering the equipment upgrade is in place. The company eventually aims to offer this to all of the nearly 80 communities it services in Pennsylvania, as well as commercial accounts.

MRFF partners launched the pilot to seek recycling solutions for FPP because of the material’s growing prevalence in the waste stream and lack of viable recovery or reuse options. Partners include Procter & Gamble, Target, Dow Chemical Company, PepsiCo, Nestlé Purina PetCare, The Walmart Foundation and the American Chemistry Council.

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