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 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 2017, Cobb County received a $50,000 grant from Dow and administered through Keep America Beautiful to implement the program in our community. The program launched in November 2018, making the program available to customers of American Disposal. By mid-2019, more than 20,000 residents expressed interest in participating, involving additional recycling haulers, which now include American Disposal, B Green Services, Custom Disposal Service and Pickers Waste Service. Cobb County was awarded a second Hefty® EnergyBag® program grant from Dow to expand the program beginning in 2020 (exact timing to be finalized).
- Currently, customers of American Disposal, B Green Services, Custom Disposal Service and Pickers Waste Service can enroll. Please contact your enrolled hauler customer service department to join:
- American Disposal (678) 720-0500
- B Green Services (404) 660-1392
- Custom Disposal Service (770) 977-2788
- Pickers Waste Service (678) 324-8675
Participating households place their hard-to-recycle plastics in Hefty® EnergyBag® 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 Hefty® 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 resources.
Additional bags can be purchased at your local Kroger.
The Environmental Benefits
The Hefty® EnergyBag® program provides many environmental and economic benefits, including:
- The diversion of valuable resources from landfills
- The conversion of waste into alternative energy, which can be used to power businesses, cars and homes
- 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
- Potential cost savings that aid in the decrease of waste management costs
- The reduction of fossil fuels extracted from the ground
- Increased consumer engagement and education of resource recovery
- Reynolds Consumer Products
- Flexible Packaging Association
- Bema, Inc.
- Keep Cobb Beautiful
- American Disposal Services
- Custom Disposal Services
- B-Green Services
- Pickers Waste Services
The Hefty® EnergyBag® Program is a new way to divert hard-to-recycle plastics from landfills and to convert them into a valuable resource.
It was implemented in Cobb County, GA in fall 2018. The program was successfully piloted in Citrus Heights, CA in 2014, and has since been implemented as permanent programs in Omaha, Nebraska, Boise, Idaho and in the city of London, Ontario, Canada.
The initial phase of the Hefty® EnergyBag® Program in Cobb County began in Fall 2018 and initially included 20,000 households. A second phase will be added in 2020 (exact timing to be finalized).
The Hefty® EnergyBag® Program in Cobb County is a collaboration between Dow, Reynolds Consumer Products, Keep Cobb Beautiful, Keep America Beautiful, Cobb County Haulers, West Rock, Printpack, Flexible Packaging Association, Novolex, SunChemical, Amcor, and Bema Inc.
How It Works
An initial group of approximately 20,000 households in Cobb County started in the program in 2019. Households are asked to follow three simple steps:
- Collect plastics that are not currently recycled in the Hefty® EnergyBag® orange bags. Your kit will have specific items listed to make this easier, but plastics labeled as #1 recyclables like water and soda bottles should not be collected in the bags.
- When full, close the Hefty® EnergyBag® orange bag by tying it securely, then just place it inside your existing recycling bin or cart.
- The Hefty® EnergyBag® orange bag will be picked up by your participating hauler on your regular pick up day and will be sent to an approved end market to be turned into a valuable resource.
Waste plastics suitable for the Hefty® EnergyBag® program are converted into valuable resources, like diesel fuel, oil and wax.
After being collected and pulled off at the recycling facility, the Hefty® EnergyBag® orange bags will be converted into a valuable resource, using various plastics-to-energy technologies. The conversion technologies meet very strict emission control requirements, so the content of the Hefty® EnergyBag® orange bags will be converted through proven, conscientious methods.
The Hefty® EnergyBag® Program provides many environmental benefits, including:
- Diverting valuable resources from the landfill
- Converting perceived waste into a valuable resource
- If everyone participates at average rates, it is estimated that Cobb County could keep more than 23 million pounds of non-recycled plastics out of the landfills in a year. That’s more than 11,000 tons of valuable resources that don’t need to be wasted! By recovering the high-energy content of these plastics, this waste could be used to create the equivalent of more than 30 million kWh of electricity or more than 2.4 million gallons of diesel fuel.
- Producing alternative energy
- Making existing recycling programs more efficient
- Reducing the dependence on new fossil fuels that have to be extracted from the ground
- Repurposing plastics into energy can be used to power cars and homes, and is good for the environment
- If this program is adopted nationwide, it will reduce the amount of natural resources extracted in the USA
- Converting plastics into alternative energy is a good way to meet U.S. energy needs
- The Hefty® EnergyBag® Program can help decrease waste management costs
What Goes in the EnergyBag?
Hard-to-recycle plastics accepted in your orange bags:
|Candy wrappers (no metal foil)||Plastic cheese bags|
|Chip bags / Snack bags or wrappers (no metal foil)||Plastic cups, plates, bowls (no #1 PET)|
|Coffee pods (no coffee grinds / no metal foil)||Plastic deli wrap / trays (remove pad)|
|Condiment packets (no metal foil)||Plastic liners from powder mixes|
|Foam cups / foam-to-go containers||Plastic pet food bags (no paper)|
|Foam packing peanuts||Plastic film grocery / shopping bags|
|Frozen fruit bags||Plastic straws / plastic stir sticks (no wood)|
|Frozen potato bags||Plastic utensils|
|Frozen vegetable bags||Plastic toothpaste tubes (no metal foil)|
|Granola / Energy / Protein bar wrappers (no metal foil)||Pudding cups (no metal foil)|
|Juice pouches (no metal foil)||Salad bags, Snack bags, Self-sealing bags|
|Laundry pouches||Squeezable pouches (no metal foil)|
|Microwavable pouches||Stand-up pouches (no metal foil)|
Examples of unacceptable items includes currently recycled materials as well as the following:
|Aluminum Cans/ Steel Cans/ Foil/ Metal||Nylon, Urethane|
|Appliances, Electronic Devices||Paper, Cardboard|
|Food||Plastic medical products|
|Glass||Rubber, any kind|
|Hoses, tubes, rope, or wiring||Water or soda bottles (#1 PET or PETE)|
We ask that you squeeze as much product out of it as possible. Just as cleaning out recyclable items creates a cleaner and more valuable recycling stream, reducing contamination in the Hefty® EnergyBag® enables us to convert this trash to valuable resources more efficiently.
We ask that you get as much product out of it as possible. If all of the contents are not consumed, empty out as much as you can. Just as cleaning out recyclable items creates a cleaner and more valuable recycling stream, reducing contamination in the Hefty® EnergyBag® enables us to convert this trash to valuable resources more efficiently.
Check the symbol on the bottom of the container. It is common for this material to be PET (#1 plastic), which is NOT acceptable for this program. That should be placed with your regular recyclables. If the symbol contains a 4, 5, or 6 please place it in the bag, it is acceptable for this program.
We ask that you get as much product out of it as possible. If all of the contents are not consumed, empty out as much as you can. Just as cleaning out recyclable items creates a cleaner and more valuable recycling stream, reducing contamination in the Hefty® EnergyBag® enables us to convert this trash to a valuable resource more efficiently.
This is a great time to check the Keep Cobb Beautiful website to confirm that you are placing the correct items into your recycling cart/bin. Foam “to go” containers, empty juice bags, plastic shopping bags and toothpaste tubes, etc., are not currently accepted in your current recycling; however, they are suitable for the Hefty® EnergyBag® program - just empty and place in the Hefty® EnergyBag® orange bag.
Yes, clean, dry foam trays are accepted in the Hefty® EnergyBag® program. In general, if the foam trays contain no food waste or liquids, getting your school/company involved would be possible if arranged with Keep Cobb Beautiful and your hauler.
Starter Kits, Bags and Cost
The EnergyBag® Kit includes Hefty® EnergyBag® orange bags and instructions explaining how the Hefty® EnergyBag® Program works.
No. Only the Hefty® EnergyBag® orange bags can be used to collect your hard-to-recycle plastics and placed into your recycling cart/bin. They are designed to withstand rips and tears from typical compressions in hauling trucks and materials recovery facilities’ equipment. To make the most of each bag, please ensure the Hefty® EnergyBag® orange bags are completely full with hard-to-recycle plastics before placing them in your recycling bin/cart.
There is no additional pick up or hauling fees to use these bags. Residents will receive a "starter kit" from their hauler along with instructions. Going forward, residents will need to purchase their additional Hefty® EnergyBag® orange bags.
No. It is included in the recycling services provided by participating haulers.
Additional bags can be purchased at your local Kroger.
No. One price will be established for all residents per purchase model.
Additional bags can be purchased at your local Kroger.
Collection / Drop-off Details
After your Hefty® EnergyBag® orange bags have been picked up by your hauler, they will be sent to West Rock, a local material recovery facility (recycling facility). Then, the orange bags will be baled and sent to an approved end market where they are converted into valuable resources.
By placing the Hefty® EnergyBag® orange bags in your recycling cart/bin, they will be collected by your hauler along with your recyclables. Your hauler will begin looking for the special Hefty® EnergyBag® orange bags once they are delivered to your household. The strong orange bags are designed to withstand the rough recycling truck environment. When they arrive at West Rock Recycling, the easily seen orange bags are taken out before the recycling sorting process begins so they can be separated and baled for conversion to valuable resources.
In phase I, American Disposal, B Green Services, Custom Disposal Service and Waste Picker Service participated. Additional haulers will be participating in phase II in 2020 (exact timing to be finalized). Please contact your hauler to check to see if they are participating. The hauler can contact Keep Cobb Beautiful to join.
The targeted end market for the contents of the bag is to convert them into valuable resources using all acceptable energy recovery technologies, such as pyrolysis that produces diesel fuel. Waste-to-energy facilities are regulated under the Clean Air Act (CAA) in addition to any local air quality requirements that protect human health and the environment.
Unfortunately, not at this time. The Hefty® EnergyBag® program uses existing recycling infrastructure, such as recycling carts and haulers to collect the bags. In the future, Keep Cobb Beautiful may implement drop-off locations that are not available at this time.