- Materials Recovery for the Future (MRFF), an initiative from the Foundation for Chemistry Research and Initiatives, is looking to partner with a material recovery facility in the U.S. to create a curbside recycling program for flexible film packaging, as reported by Waste Today Magazine.
- The pilot aims to add flexible packaging to the participating MRF's sorting capabilities. If done successfully, the facility would be able to recover film and use it as a feedstock for manufacturing while also reducing contamination of other recyclables.
- MRFF is looking for a partner facility that is able to process 20 tons per hour. The success of the pilot will also depend on sort quality and on end market availability in proximity to the MRF.
The foundation behind MRRF was established by the American Chemistry Council, which has a vested interested in expanding recovery options for this growing part of the waste stream. Flexible packaging's lighter weight and lower cost has made it attractive to manufacturers and consumers alike. Yet recovery options for the material are still limited and no clear recycling solution is currently available.
The larger MRFF initiative includes a range of major members from the manufacturing and recycling sectors, many of which are also involved in parallel pilot projects to find the best solution for improving this material's recycling potential. One is Energy Bag in Nebraska, which collects hard-to-recycle plastics in special orange bags and sends them to be used as fuel in a cement kiln. Dow Chemical, involved in all of these pilots, has also developed a polymer modifier called RETAIN that helps break down certain layers of flexible packaging to expedite the recycling process.
This is the latest effort to update the capabilities of existing MRFs to adapt to changes in the waste stream and recover more value. The Closed Loop Fund recently issued a request for proposals to fund systems for enhanced recovery of post-consumer polypropylene plastic. The Carton Council of North America has also begun experimenting with artificial intelligence and robotic systems for carton sorting at a MRF in Denver.