Recycling at Genpak
A very simple definition of recycling is the reprocessing of old or used materials into new products. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), recycling is one of the best ways to reduce the amount of waste that is headed for a landfill. They cite that in 1999 recycling efforts diverted 64 million tons of material from landfills and incinerators. Today the US recycles 33% of its waste which is nearly double of what it was 15 years ago.
Most notably, the recycling of PET plastic products, which carry the #1 symbol, has grown significantly. The EPA estimates that 31% of such material is now recycled. Genpak produces many food container products that are made from PET that may be recycled in municipal curb side programs. These products include our clear Hinged Deli containers (made with post consumer recycled polystyrene), clear Hinged Bakery containers, oven ready Bakery Trays, oven ready Food Trays, along with nearly every clear foodservice lid that we offer.
Other types of plastics are also on the rise with recycling programs. According to the American Chemistry Council, many communities throughout the country are expanding their recycling programs to include more types of plastic. In our own community here in Upstate New York, recycling programs exist for #1, #2 and #3 plastics. Check with your own municipality for a complete listing of materials that may be accepted.
Polystyrene recyclability is a question we are often asked. The answer is a little complicated, but it is yes. Polystyrene is a recyclable plastic. The problem is that virtually no municipality in the country does it since foodservice packaging, whether paper or plastic, is very difficult to recycle and rarely done. For our part, we participated in a recycling program during the '07 - '08 school year in a select part of the country that recaptured our school trays from participating school systems. These trays are recycled back into usable raw material for manufacturing. We in turn use this post consumer material to produce new trays, which creates a very nice closed loop system. To date we have successfully saved over 41,000 pounds of virgin polystyrene resin by utilizing this post consumer recycled material.
We also have a dedicated polyethylene recycling facility located in Minnesota that recycles 15 million pounds of plastic annually. We recycle low and high density polyethylene from sources that are both post industrial and post consumer, which we use to make new products. Our recycled polyethylene goes into our Bags Again product as well as our Superbag® Renew, and is a very popular choice used in plain rollstock for a variety of applications.
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