The Hefty EnergyBag program, which is backed by Dow Chemical Co. and works to divert traditionally non-recycled plastics away from landfill and into energy-recovery facilities, is receiving criticism from anti-incineration activists who claim that the program is a “greenwashing” stunt.
Dow Chemical has responded to this criticism by explaining that while recycling is the preferred solution for plastic waste, some plastics can’t readily be recycled. Therefore, the concept of converting these materials into valuable energy resources can be a step forward in achieving positive long-term environmental and economic advantages.
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Anti-incineration activists are criticizing an industry program that diverts traditionally non-recycled plastics away from landfill and into energy-recovery facilities. In response, project backer Dow Chemical Co. has defended the program’s utility.
Using orange bags left at the curb, the Hefty EnergyBag program collects a range of plastic items, including multilayer bags and films, foam polystyrene goods and other packaging. The bags are then sent to a facility for energy recovery. For the past year, the program has collected plastic in Omaha, Neb. and sent it to a cement factory to be burned for energy.
Hefty EnergyBag is backed by DowDuPont subsidiary Dow Chemical Co., which teamed up with nonprofit group Keep America Beautiful (KAB) earlier this year to expand it to other municipalities. The program accepted grant applications from communities with access to a variety of energy-recovery technologies, including cement kilns and gasification and pyrolysis technologies. A Dow spokeswoman told Plastics Recycling Update the Hefty EnergyBag program has its roots in a 2014 pilot program in Citrus Heights, Calif., where material was collected for conversion into oil.