Global nonprofit The Sustainability Consortium (TSC) recently released a study featuring Cassville, Mo.-based recycler Marck Recycling that shows more work is needed to improve existing systems to recycle plastic film, including grocery and trash bags, food packaging, and wraps for agricultural products.
The study, Plastic Film Management Insights, was completed by TSC researchers based in Bentonville and focused on the recycler’s Northwest Arkansas operations, said Erika Ferrin, senior director of marketing, communication and development for TSC. The study is available on TSC’s website.
If not handled appropriately, the film can damage material recovery facilities and enter regional watersheds. Nearly 90% of the film is incinerated or goes to landfills.
“One reason it is challenging for communities to manage plastic film is that there is very little visibility into how it is collected and handled for recycling,” said Sarah Lewis, senior director of innovation for TSC. “This case study provides a window into how one leading commercial recycler is managing plastic film, thus providing insight into how this system works and how it could be improved to increase the amount of plastic film recycled.”
Founded in 1997, Marck Recycling operates nine facilities in the Midwest and South, including recycling facilities in Fayetteville, Fort Smith and Rogers.
“Recycling LDPE films in Northwest Arkansas is one of the most optimum grades of plastic to recycle in the area,” said Mike Wilson, vice president of Marck Recycling. “At Marck Recycling, we see transparency as the key to improving the recyclability of plastic films. We are fortunate to be able to reduce our environmental impact by being local to the consumers of this material. We are excited to be a part of this new study and hope the actions Marck is taking can help others in the industry.”
In January, TSC opened an office at 700 S.E. Fifth St. in Bentonville, northeast of the Momentary. The organization was co-founded in 2009 by the University of Arkansas and Arizona State University. It is jointly administered by the universities and has an office at Wageningen University and Research in the Netherlands. TSC has 32 staff, including 14 in Northwest Arkansas.