Plastic recycling: Future scenarios and behavioral influences

Published October 22, 2021


In a story on the future of plastics recycling, Food Packaging Forum reports on research by John Atkinson, Scott and Coleen Stevens Chair in Engineering Sustainability in the Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering, that explored how single-use plastic bag bans in New York have influenced retail return polyethylene (PE) film recycling.

The authors emphasize that this higher contamination “does increase the cost of recovering and transporting the material, and it may limit end markets the material can be sold into.” They make clear that bag bans are not “categorically bad” and “have many positive environmental impacts, but an increase in retail return film contamination is an overlooked consequence that may impact the films recycling industry.” Therefore, they recommend that future bag bans should be implemented along with increased consumer education, other signage, and strategic placements of bins. The article appeared in Waste Management, here.

Read the story here.