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The Hefty EnergyBag Program

Hefty Energy Bag Program

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 energy 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 Custom Disposal and B-Green services as well as American Disposal. Cobb County was awarded a second Hefty® EnergyBag® program grant from Dow to expand the program beginning in late 2019.

Sign up is required for those are are interested in participating at Hefty® EnergyBag® Sign Up.

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.

Hefty EnergyBag Filled
Purchase Additional Hefty® EnergyBags®

Thank you for participating in the Hefty® EnergyBag® Program!


*Please note: This program is limited to American Disposal customers only

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

Sponsored By:

Hefty EnergyBag Sponsors
  • DOW
  • Reynolds Consumer Products
  • Printpack
  • SunChemical
  • Flexible Packaging Association
  • Amcor
  • Bema, Inc.
  • Keep Cobb Beautiful
  • American Disposal Services
  • Custom Disposal
  • B-Green
  • WestRock

Participating Haulers

American Disposal Services
Custom Disposal
B Green Services
Pickers Waste

General Information

What is the Hefty EnergyBag program?

The Hefty® EnergyBag® Program is a new way to divert hard-to-recycle plastics from landfills and to convert them into energy.

Where is the Hefty EnergyBag Program taking place?

It will be 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 and Boise, Idaho and surrounding areas.

When will the Hefty EnergyBag Program launch in Cobb County?

The initial phase of the Hefty® EnergyBag® Program in Cobb County will begin in Fall 2018 and will include an initial 20,000 households. A second phase will be added in 2019 (exact timing to be finalized).

What companies are involved in Cobb County’s Hefty EnergyBag Program?

The Hefty® EnergyBag® Program in Cobb County is a collaboration between Dow, Reynolds, Keep Cobb Beautiful, Keep America Beautiful, American Disposal, West Rock, Firststar Recycling, Printpack, Flexible Packaging Association, Bema Inc. and Novolex.

Who can I contact for more information?

Keep Cobb Beautiful
(770) 528-1135
[email protected]

American Disposal
(678) 720-0500
[email protected]

West Rock Recycling
(678) 403-3900

Hefty® Consumer Products
(800) 433-2244

Firststar Recycling
(402) 894-0018

How It Works

How does the Hefty EnergyBag Program work?

An initial group of approximately 20,000 households in Cobb County will receive a starter kit this fall that includes an initial supply of Hefty® EnergyBag® orange bags and program instructions. Households are asked to follow three simple steps:

  1. 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.
  2. When full, close the Hefty® EnergyBag® orange bag by tying it securely, then just place it inside your existing recycling bin or cart.
  3. The Hefty® EnergyBag® orange bag will be picked up by American Disposal on your regular pick up day and will be sent to an approved end market to be turned into a valuable energy resource.
Why were only 20,000 households in Cobb County chosen?

The phased approach helps to make the change more manageable for haulers, recyclers and the community. The initial phase with 20,000 American Disposal customers begins in Cobb County and they will receive the Hefty® EnergyBag® Kit at no charge. We will gradually expand the Hefty® EnergyBag® Program to more households starting in 2019.

How are these waste plastic items re-utilized?

Waste plastics suitable for the Hefty® EnergyBag® program are converted into valuable resources, like diesel fuel.

What are the environmental benefits/impacts of the Hefty EnergyBag Program?

After being collected and pulled off at the recycling facility, the Hefty® EnergyBag® orange bags will be converted into a valuable energy 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:

Key Benefits

  • Diverting valuable resources from the landfill
  • Converting perceived waste into energy
  • 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.

Other Benefits

  • 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?

What hard-to-recycle plastics can I place into the Hefty EnergyBag?

 Hard-to-recycle plastics accepted in your orange bags:

Candy wrappers (no metal foil) Plastic cheese bags
Chip bags / Snack bags or wrappers Plastic cups, plates, bowls
Coffee pods (no coffee grinds / no metal foil) Plastic deli wrap / trays
Condiment packets Plastic liners from powder mixes
Foam cups / foam-to-go containers Plastic pet food bags
Foam packing peanuts Plastic film grocery / shopping bags
Frozen fruit bags Plastic straws / plastic stir sticks
Frozen potato bags Plastic utensils
Frozen vegetable bags Plastic toothpaste tubes
Granola / Energy / Protein bar wrappers Pudding cups (no metal foil)
Juice pouches Salad bags
Laundry pouches Squeezable pouches
Microwavable pouches Stand-up pouches
What are things we SHOULD NOT put in the EnergyBag orange bag?

Examples of unacceptable items includes currently recycled materials as well as the following:

Aluminum / Steel Cans Metal
Electronic Devices Paper or Cardboard
Food Plastic medical products
Glass Rubber
Hazardous waste Toys
Hoses, tubes, rope, or wiring Water or soda bottles (#1 PET or PETE)
Liquids Wood
Can glass go into the EnergyBag orange bags?


After I finish my toothpaste or other tube contents, do I just place my rolled tube in the bag?

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 energy resources more efficiently.

After a juice bag or pouch is empty, do I just place it in the bag?

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 energy resources more efficiently.

Would this program collect thin molded plastic containers for berries and salads?

No. These materials are commonly PET (#1 plastics) and these kind of rigid containers are not accepted in the program.

How clean do these plastics have to be? Just empty or does all food residue have to be washed off?

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 energy resources more efficiently.

Doesn’t our recycling accept all plastic waste without my needing a plastic bag to put it in?

Foam “to go” containers, empty juice bags and toothpaste tubes are not accepted in your current recycling, but they are suitable for the Hefty® EnergyBag® program if they are emptied and placed in the Hefty® EnergyBag® orange bags.

My school/workplace uses foam trays. Can they be collected in this program?

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 American Disposal.

Starter Kits, Bags and Cost

What is included in the Hefty EnergyBag Kit?

The EnergyBag® Kit includes 20 - 8 gallon Hefty® EnergyBag® orange bags and instructions explaining how the Hefty® EnergyBag® Program works.

Can I use any orange bag for my hard-to-recycle plastic to be collected in?

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.

Will there be an additional monthly charge for those who choose to use these bags in their established recycling bin?

There is no additional monthly charge.  After your free starter kit is depleted, you can order additional Hefty® EnergyBag® orange bags for $8 (roll of 20) from the Keep Cobb Beautiful website.

Do I have to pay an additional fee to participate in the program?

No. It is included in the recycling services provided by participating haulers.

After the initial phase of the program, what is the cost of the bags? How can I get more bags?

Additional bags can be purchased online for $8.00 per roll. After the order has been placed, your bags will be delivered to your home.

Will there be a senior citizen discount on the bags?

No. One price will be established for all residents per purchase model.

How do I purchase additional Hefty® EnergyBags®?

Additional Hefty® EnergyBags® can be purchased online from Keep Cobb Beautiful

Collection / Drop-off Details

What happens to the Hefty EnergyBag orange bags once they’re collected in Cobb County?

After your Hefty® EnergyBag® orange bags have been picked up by American Disposal, 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 energy resources.

How will garbage collection/haulers know to not throw these orange bags into their garbage trucks?

By placing the Hefty® EnergyBag® orange bags in your recycling cart/bin, they will be collected by American Disposal along with your recyclables. American Disposal 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 even begins so they can be separated and baled for conversion to valuable resources.

I don’t think my waste pick up and recycling providers participate.

In phase 1, American Disposal, Custom Disposal and B-Green haulers are participating. In phase 2 beginning in November 2019, additional haulers will be participating. Please contact your hauler to check to see if they are participating.

Are the contents of the Hefty® EnergyBag® orange bags incinerated?

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.

We don't have recycling collection. Can we still participate? Can I bring the Hefty EnergyBag orange bags directly to West Rock Recycling?

Unfortunately, not in this first phase. 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.