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    Plastic Recycling Tools Available Online

    Grocers likely to implement expanded programs

    The Association of Postconsumer Plastics Recyclers (APR) has introduced online resources to help grocers recycle more of the plastic containers they use and empty on-site. The program aims to recycle the 350 million-plus pounds of plastic containers discarded annually by U.S. supermarkets.

    “Plastic containers represent a valuable resource for recyclers and a potential revenue stream for the grocers who collect and recycle them,” noted Steve Alexander, president and CEO of Washington, D.C.-based APR.

    Used plastic containers are mainly generated in a store’s bakery, deli, seafood and pharmacy departments. Since many grocers already recycle cardboard and plastic film, expanding their programs to include plastic containers makes sense.

    “Our new program makes it easy for grocers to generate additional value and strengthen their sustainability efforts by recycling more of the plastics they use every day,” added Alexander.

    Delhaize America subsidiary Hannaford Supermarkets and Ahold USA division Stop & Shop have both successfully piloted APR’s “Recycle Grocery Rigid Plastics” program, and are now exploring implementation of full-scale plastic recycling programs, according to the trade association.

    “Recycling plastic containers clearly plays a role in our zero-waste strategy,” said Christine Gallagher, manager of corporate responsibility for Quincy, Mass.-based Ahold USA. “Throwing away recyclables is like throwing away money. Waste diversion programs like this can generate cost savings by reducing trash volume. Our stores end up paying less to have their trash removed because there is less to throw away.”

    “Recycling rigid plastic containers is an important part of Hannaford’s efforts to move toward zero waste and to reduce our carbon footprint,” observed George Parmenter, manager of sustainability for the Scarborough, Maine-based chain. “This work hits that sustainability sweet spot, where what’s good for business meets what’s good for the planet.”

    Elizabeth Bedard, director of APR’s rigid plastics recycling program, will present the new Recycle Grocery Rigid Plastics tools Oct. 4 at 1:30 p.m. at the Food Marketing Institute’s 2012 Sustainability Summit at the Hyatt Regency Washington.

    The free tools, including a how-to guide, an educational video series, a list of companies that purchase recovered plastics, worksheets to evaluate potential cost savings and revenue, and customizable training materials, are accessible at a dedicated website, along with no-charge technical assistance for qualifying companies.

    The program was funded in part by a grant from the Plastics Division of the Washington-based American Chemistry Council.

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