Dow and Keep America Beautiful have awarded two $40,000 grants to organizations in Cobb County, Georgia, and Lincoln, Nebraska. The grants will expand a recently launched Hefty EnergyBag program in Cobb County and help to establish a new start-up program in Lincoln. The program, which aligns with Dow’s 2025 sustainability goals, offers an innovative approach to diverting plastic waste that are not currently recycled – such as flexible films, foam to-go containers, plastic cups, straws and lids – from landfills by converting the materials into valuable resources.
Dow and Keep America Beautiful jointly announced the Hefty EnergyBag grant program in July 2017 and previously awarded grants to organizations in Cobb County and Boise, Idaho. In an effort to continue expanding the program, the organizations reopened the grant in 2018 for a second round of applications from communities across the U.S.
“We’re excited to build upon the success of the existing Hefty EnergyBag programs through the 2018 grants we’re issuing to Cobb County and Lincoln,” says Jon Pyper, North America associate director of Sustainability and Advocacy for Dow Packaging and Specialty Plastics. “By growing these programs, we are taking an important step toward increasing plastics recovery across North America.”
Each community will collect hard-to-recycle plastic materials and provide them to approved facilities that have the ability to generate a liquid fuel, such as diesel, using non-combustion conversion technologies. This process extends the life cycle of these plastic materials by creating new energy resources.
Growing Collaboration in Cobb County
In January, Dow and Keep America Beautiful awarded Keep Cobb Beautiful a $50,000 grant to help establish the Hefty EnergyBag program in the county, which launched in November 2018. Keep Cobb Beautiful, a local affiliate of Keep America Beautiful, currently collaborates with hauler American Disposal to collect the hard-to-recycle plastics and with WestRock Recycling to separate the distinctive Hefty orange bags for transport to Nexus Fuels for conversion to low-sulfur fuels, oils and wax products. The additional grant funding will enable more local haulers and their residential customers, to participate in the program.
“Keep Cobb Beautiful had many inquiries about the Hefty EnergyBag program at the community launch event where community members could drop off currently unrecycled plastics, so we’re excited to grow the program by having more households participate,” notes Kimberly White, executive director for Keep Cobb Beautiful, Inc. “By building on the existing program and expanding to new haulers in Cobb County, we have an exciting opportunity to have an even greater impact on how our community manages waste.”
Building on Successes in Nebraska with Lincoln
The $40,000 grant awarded to help establish a full-scale Hefty EnergyBag program in Lincoln represents yet another community to launch in Nebraska. The Omaha metropolitan area was the first full-scale program to launch in October 2016. The greater Omaha area program expanded in 2017 to include the communities of Louisville, Ralston, Papillion, La Vista and Bellevue. The grant is being administered by Firstar Fiber, which has received the support of the City of Lincoln and haulers Uribes Refuse Services, Kurtzer Brothers Refuse, Zajicek Refuse Inc., D&D Refuse, Alley Cat Disposal & Recycling and Paragon Sanitation, to collaborate on the program that will launch in 2019, with additional support from the Lincoln Solid Waste and Recycling Association and the Nebraska Grocery Industry Association
“The success of the Omaha-area Hefty EnergyBag program over the last two years has captured the attention of Lincoln organizations,” notes Dale Gubbels, CEO of Firstar Fiber. “Introducing the program to Lincoln is an exciting next step in Nebraska’s plan to increase the quantity of materials we are recovering, thereby reducing the amount of waste going to our landfills.”
The grant money will be used to provide residents with initial starter kits of Hefty EnergyBag orange bags, with additional bags available for purchase at a later date. Before purchasing the orange bags, residents should check with their regular hauler to make sure they are able to participate in the program.