US solid waste and recycling services provider JP Mascaro & Sons has partnered with the Materials Recovery for the Future (MRFF) research programme to pilot single-stream curbside recycling of flexible plastic packaging (FPP).

The partners will undertake the first pilot to demonstrate the technical and economic feasibility of recycling FPP from residential single-stream recycling programmes at Mascaro’s TotalRecycle material recovery facility (MRF) in Berks County, Pennsylvania.

MRFF, which is a research project of the American Chemistry Council’s (ACC) Foundation for Chemistry Research and Initiatives, comprises several members including The Procter & Gamble, Target, The Dow Chemical, PepsiCo, Nestlé USA, Nestlé Purina PetCare, Amcor, ACC, and Flexible Packaging Association.

“Our MRFF collaborative is excited to partner with JP Mascaro and demonstrate the recyclability of flexible plastic packaging.”

Other members of the project include LyondellBasell Industries, The Plastics Industry Association, Sealed Air, SC Johnson, the Canadian Plastics Industry Association and the Association of Plastic Recyclers.

MRFF chairperson Steve Sikra said: “Our MRFF collaborative is excited to partner with JP Mascaro and demonstrates the recyclability of flexible plastic packaging.

“We are all committed to the success of this programme and look forward to adding recycled flexible packaging into the circular economy.”

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FPP includes films, wraps, bags and pouches, and is growing as a widely used form of packaging, with a relatively low rate of recycling.

Resource Recycling Systems (RRS), which is designated to conduct the MRFF research programme, indicated that each year, 12 billion pounds of FPP enters the market for consumer use.

Due to the growing contribution of FPP to the packaging waste stream, the project recognises the need for scalable recycling collection strategies as critical to its sustainability.

According to RRS, TotalRecycle has the ability to produce 3,100t of postconsumer FPP feedstock per annum.

Data generated from the pilot will be used to enable transmission of information to municipalities and the recycling industry regarding efficient and economical ways for recycling the material, resulting in used FPP materials being converted into a bale that can be used by various end markets.

Mascaro sustainability director Joseph Mascaro said: “We are confident that the pilot will be successful and will generate industry data to show FPP generators, municipalities and the recycling industry that FPP can be efficiently and economically recycled and marketed instead of being landfilled.”

Set to commence later this year, the pilot programme is expected to last two years.

Optical sorters will be installed at the TotalRecycle facility to target FPP and direct the material out of the single-stream material flow.