Program Overview

The Hefty® EnergyBag program is a groundbreaking initiative, led by Dow and Reynolds Consumer Products, that collects previously hard-to-recycle plastics at curbside and converts them into valuable energy resources. The program is a significant step towards achieving positive long-term environmental and economic advantages, including fewer plastics ending up in landfills.

Dow and Keep America Beautiful established the Hefty® EnergyBag Grant to offer communities nationwide the opportunity to implement the Hefty® EnergyBag program as part of their existing waste management infrastructure. In January, we awarded two $50,000 grants to organizations in Cobb County, Georgia (Keep Cobb Beautiful Inc.) and the City of Boise, Idaho to establish the Hefty® EnergyBag programs in their respective communities. This year, Dow is funding a total of $100,000 in grants to multiple communities across the nation.

Dow’s aim is to establish Hefty® EnergyBag programs as viable, self-sustained collection initiatives, which complement mechanical recycling and thereby divert valuable plastics from landfills. Dow will provide grant recipients with the funding and support necessary to implement the program in their communities.

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How the Hefty® EnergyBag Program Works

Participating households place their hard-to-recycle plastics in Hefty® Energy Bag orange bags. Once full, residents tie the bags and place them in their curbside recycling carts or bins during their regularly-scheduled recycling pick-up.

Participants’ current haulers pick up the tied orange bags along with their regular recycling materials and send them to a local materials recovery facility (MRF) for sorting. The MRF then bales the bags and sends them to a local energy recovery facility, which converts plastics into valuable energy resources.

The Environmental Benefits

The Hefty® EnergyBag program provides many environmental and economic benefits, including:

  1. The diversion of valuable resources from landfills
  2. The conversion of waste into alternative energy, which can be used to power businesses, cars and homes
  3. Improved efficiency of existing mechanical recycling programs by reducing the amount of hard-to-recycle materials going to materials recovery facilities, ultimately improving the quality of recycled materials such as paper and cardboard
  4. Potential cost savings that aid in the decrease of waste management costs
  5. The reduction of fossil fuels extracted from the ground
  6. Increased consumer engagement and education of resource recovery

Omaha, Nebraska Hefty® EnergyBag Program

The Hefty® EnergyBag™ program is currently underway in the Omaha area, where previously hard-to-recycle plastics are collected and converted into valuable energy resources. With support from local mayors, the program demonstrates the feasibility of collecting hard-to-recycle plastics, sorting them at local materials recycling facilities and effectively converting them into energy resources at energy conversion facilities – all via an existing waste management infrastructure.

The program launched in Omaha in September 2016 for 6,000 local households and has already expanded across the Omaha metro area to Louisville, Ralston, Papillion and La Vista!

As of February 2018, the curbside program has collected 24,000 orange bags in the Omaha metro area and diverted 13 tons of plastics from landfills, the equivalent of approximately 10.6 million snack-sized chip bags or 63 barrels of diesel fuel.

Citrus Heights, California EnergyBag Pilot Program

Sponsored by Dow, the Flexible Packaging Association and Republic Services, along with the City of Citrus Heights, a three-month EnergyBag Pilot kicked off in 2014. It was the first of its kind in the United States where hard-to-recycle plastics were collected at curbside and diverted from landfills in order to optimize resource efficiency.

Materials collected during the Citrus Height EnergyBag program were converted into high-value synthetic crude oil at a local plastics-to-fuel plant, using energy recovery technology.

Program Results

  • 26,000 households in Citrus Heights participated in the program, yielding a 30 percent participation rate
  • 1/3 of targeted homeowners participated at some point during the pilot
  • Collected nearly 8,000 bags in three months
  • Diverted approximately 6,000 pounds of hard-to-recycle plastics from landfills
  • Produced 512 gallons of synthetic crude oil
  • 78 percent of citizens said they would likely participate in the program if given another chance