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Novolex Buys Wisconsin Plastic Bag, Film Recycler, Maker

Stickers Used to Keep Plastic Bags from Recycling Bins

Novolex has purchased Wisconsin Film & Bag (WFB), a plastic bag and film manufacturer and recycler, for an undisclosed amount.

The Shawano, Wis.-based WFB operates a plastics recycling plant and converting facility near its headquarters. It makes custom polyethylene bags and films as well recycled and sustainable materials. It employs about 175, according to a news release.

“This is important to us because it will further enhance our high quality packaging choices for customers while advancing our position as the industry leader in sustainability,” said Stan Bikulege, chairman and CEO of Novolex, based in Hartsville, S.C.

Private equity firm Wind Point Partners acquired Novolex (formerly Hilex Poly) in 2012. WFB is the fourth acquisition for the company since it took on new ownership. Previous Novolex purchases include Packaging Dynamics (December 2014), Duro Bag (July 2014) and a portion of Clondalkin Group’s North American Flexible Packaging Division (April 2013).

With the addition of WFB, Novolex now generates revenue of $2 billion with more than 5,200 employees and 37 manufacturing locations in North America.

The plastic bags continue to be most famous for being an environmental and political football in a battle to ban their use by consumers or find a better way to recycle them. While legislation restricting their use continues to be a popular push for environmentalists, two companies in Texas have tried to find a way to recycle the products.

In late 2014, the city of San Antonio and ReCommunity joined forces to pilot the “Bag Your Bags” program as a way to stop lightweight high-density polyethylene (HDPE) material from jamming recycling machines by asking residents to effectively create a plastic bag "ball" out of multiple bags. 

Texas Disposal Services (TDS) introduced a similar program in 2011, but only one of the nearly 100 communities and municipalities it services has taken them up on the offer. That’s Georgetown, Texas, a community north of Austin which added the program when it converted its curbside recycling collection to single-stream, says Ryan Hobbs, business development for TDS.

“We came up with the 'Bag-The-Bag' film plastic recycling program and we designed a special stuffer bag that are distributed to residential customers who can place them in their pantry or under a sink and over the course of time, they can stuff all varieties of film plastic inside,” such as bread bags, newspaper bags and the wrap around paper towels, he says.

Earlier in the year, there was promising data for post-consumer plastic film recycling. It jumped 11 percent from the previous year, according to the findings from the American Chemistry Council.

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