At a time when talks of plastic waste has reached an all-time high, it looks like plastic bag manufacturers are ready to do something about it as well. U.S. plastic bag manufacturers and recyclers just signed a wide-ranging sustainability commitment for the industry and renamed their coalition the American Recyclable Plastic Bag Alliance (ARPBA). The agreement by ARPBA members includes a target that 95% of plastic retail bags be reused or recycled by 2025.

“Today, we are all proud to come together to commit to specific industry-wide sustainability goals. Our alliance was founded by U.S. manufacturers who saw the benefits in plastic bag recycling and invested heavily in the infrastructure and education needed to make it a reality. Our members now recycle hundreds of millions of pounds of bags and plastic films each year, and each of us are undertaking many other efforts to promote sustainable bag use,” said Gary Alstott, chairman of the ARPBA and senior vice president at Novolex.

“As a result of our industry’s efforts to build recycling infrastructure, nearly all Americans can now conveniently bring plastic bags and other plastic films back to the grocery store to be recycled into new products. We are proud of the progress we have made and energized to do even more. The change to the American Recyclable Plastic Bag Alliance best reflects our members’ efforts as a coalition and helps us continue to share the success story of plastic bag recycling,” said Matt Seaholm, executive director of the ARPBA. 

With the current reuse rate of plastic grocery bags at about 78% and the recycle rate around 12%, nearly 90% of bags are currently reused or recycled. In addition to efforts that encourage consumers to reuse bags and working with retailers to place the How2Recycle label on all U.S.-made bags, members will increase the amount of recycled content in their products to achieve today’s pledge of a 95% reuse and recycle rate by 2025. The members committed to achieving the following minimum recycled content in plastic retail bags:

  • 2021 – All bags will have 10% recycled content
  • 2023 – All bags will have 15% recycled content
  • 2025 – All bags will have 20% recycled content