Finding NewEnd Markets

Processing bags and film returned to the store into recycled content is only recycling if there is market for that material. While many plastic bags are recycled into new bags, in part due to the portions of our sustainability commitment related to increasing the amount recycled content in the industry’s products, supporting the development of additional end markets is important.

Finding new applications for recycled polyethylene is important to meeting our commitment to increase how many bags are collected and recycled.

The Plastics Industry Association (PLASTICS) leads the collaborative New End Market Opportunity, or NEMO project, focusing on four main pillars of innovation and development of streams and end markets for recycled content.

  • Convincing brands and converters that there is a market and emerging supplies for recycled materials.

  • Proof of concept for material recovery facilities (MRF’s) and reclaimers that there are viable ways to process recycled materials.

  • Focusing attention on potential policy and advocacy.

  • Promoting a circular economy.

One of their most exciting projects to-date is their Plastic to Asphalt Program. PLASTICS supports the research and development of processes and technologies to incorporate post-consumer recycled PE films as the necessary polymer additive in asphalt binder. This project is managed in concert with the National Center for Asphalt Technology (NCAT) and industry leaders, resulting in a recycled PE formulation that is comparable in most performance areas to traditional, virgin materials used today. The program has completed five privately funded projects with plans to expand.