SC Johnson Ziploc® Brand Bags

Recycling Ziploc® Bags: Getting Communities Closer to Kerbside Recycling for Plastic Film

As a company that strives for zero waste, SC Johnson is actively seeking the best ways to recycle plastic bags.
When developing products, SC Johnson thinks not only about how well they work for people, but also for the planet.
Here’s a disappointing stat: There are 18,000-plus stores around the United States that currently accept Ziploc® brand bags for recycling. But only about 0.2 percent of the bags that are purchased each year actually get recycled. 
 
As a company that cares a lot about reducing waste, that’s a stat we really want to change. A key step is making it easier to recycle plastic bags.
At SC Johnson, when we develop products, we think not only about how well they work for people, but also how much they affect the environment. Ziploc® brand bags are a great example – for years we’ve been investigating ways to better enable their recycling and reuse. Our initial focus has been in the United States, our largest market for the bags. 
 
From our research, we know that to truly increase consumers’ recycling patterns, we need to solve two problems. 
 
First, there needs to be a valuable market for the plastic film once it’s recycled. If that exists, it will help increase programmes that make recycling easier. Second, while Ziploc® brand bags are already recyclable, our ultimate vision is for them to be recyclable in your kerbside recycling bin. That will make it more convenient and, hopefully, increase recycling numbers. Right now, only about a third of US residents recycle. 
For decades we have worked to lighten our environmental footprint. It’s who we are. It’s how we operate. And, recycling Ziploc® bags is just one more example.

Fisk Johnson, Chairman and CEO of SC Johnson

We’ve been focusing on reinventing used plastic bags into something truly usable, because we know from experience that if re-use is possible, opportunities for convenient recycling will follow. 
 
In Europe, the equipment to wash soiled plastic film is already widely in use. This is important, because a key barrier to kerbside recycling is that plastic bags in the recycling bin tend to pick up dirt and other grime, reducing the reuse value. In fact, right now most US recycling facilities pick out the plastic bags from the recycling stream and send them directly to landfill. 
 
But there’s a better way. Soiled plastic film in Europe is washed and converted into pellets, where it can be melted down for other reuse. Building on that concept, we started a pilot programme in the USA with a recycling partner and garbage bag manufacturer, who can use the recycled plastic pellets to make garbage bags. 
 
We don’t have plans to mass produce or sell garbage bags made from recycled Ziploc® brand bags, but during this test period. We’re also looking for other uses for recycled film pellets, such as turning them into pallets or construction beams. And that’s not to mention an additional pilot underway with compostable Ziploc® brand bags. 
When we develop products, we think not only about how well they work for people, but also how much they affect the environment.

As we further explore plastic recycling technologies and opportunities, we’re thrilled at the possibility of keeping millions of kgs of plastic film from reaching landfills. And we’re confident we’ll get there.

This isn’t the first time SC Johnson has set out to transform recycling. In the 1990s, we led a national grassroots coalition to promote steel can recycling – like the aerosol cans many of our products come in. By 2016, more than 222 million people in the USA had access to kerbside or other nearby-options for aerosol can recycling. 

Similarly, in Argentina, Chile and Uruguay, we created an innovative recycling programme that’s led to more efficient aerosol can recycling, while also providing an improved working environment for employees at waste management facilities.

Our Ziploc® brand bags make life easier and better for millions and millions of families. By increasing recycling of them, they become even more valuable. So, count on the fact that we’ll keep working until recycling is convenient for everyone. And, in turn, we hope you’ll take the opportunity to recycle bags and other recyclables you use.

Together, we can help protect the planet for generations to come.

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