The recycling of post-consumer plastic bags and wraps in the US reached approximately 972 million lbs in 2010, reflecting a 14% increase since 2009 and an increase of 50% since 2005, according to the American Chemistry Council (ACC).

The ACC has attributed the growth to increased access to collection points through grocery and retail chains, better labelling on bags and increased consumer awareness.

The report observed that collective percentage rise during the previous three years was 5.2%, with yearly individual increases of 2.24%, 0.25% and 2.64% in 2007, 2008 and 2009, respectively.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said that the recycling of plastic film rose seven times faster than recycling overall during the last five years.

Recovered polyethylene film is usually processed to manufacture new film packaging such as plastic bags, durable plastic and composite lumber for outdoor decks and fencing, home building products, garden products, crates and piping.

In collaboration with plastic packaging producers, resin suppliers, film manufacturers, brand owners and recyclers, the council has formed a new Flexible Film Recycling Group (FFRG) to build on the growth of plastics film recycling.

The group will focus on increased plastics film recycling by improving consumer awareness and promoting the growth of recycling infrastructure among industry players.

ACC vice president Steve Russell said: "We’re excited to see strong growth in the recycling of plastic bags and wraps and even more excited about opportunities for increased recycling in the near future.

"The FFRG looks forward to working with all parts of the polyethylene film value chain to make it even simpler to recover and recycle this valuable plastic material", Russell added.

The FFRG’s founding members include Dow Chemical, ExxonMobil Chemical, Trex, Sealed Air, SC Johnson and Avangard Innovative.