Nonwoven is a Number 5 Plastic – Who Knew?

4 Jan

 

Nonwoven Poly bags [Polypropylene] are some of the most popular bags on the market today because they are cheap and strong. You see them everywhere heavy stuff is getting carried around, the book store, farmers market, etc. They do their job great.

However I have written before that nonwoven bags are not recyclable.

Well in that respect it seems I was wrong. There are a number of nonwoven bags from manufactures like Jetline and Hit Promotional Products that are recyclable. These bags have a recycle rating of 5 and number 5 plastics can be recycled through some local curbside programs.

Polypropylene has a high melting point, and so is often recycled into containers that must accept hot liquid and in general it is gradually becoming more accepted by recyclers. The literature I located says “they often end up as signal lights, battery cables, brooms, brushes, auto battery cases, ice scrapers, landscape borders, bicycle racks, rakes, bins, pallets, trays”.

Nonwoven fabrics themselves are sheet or web structures bonded together by entangling fiber mechanically. They are flat and porous sheets that are made directly from separate (often recycled) fibers. They are not made by weaving or knitting and do not require converting the fibers to yarn.

So yes Ecopreneurist it seems you can feel more comfortable about your Nonwoven bags. They are certainly the cheaper alternative to PET and organic and standard cotton shopper. Also keep in mind that the Advertising Specialty Institute ranks bags as the #2 longest retained promotion item, after clothing.

For more information and pricing on nonwoven bags please visit the Jetline website or see our page on nonwoven bags at www.proformagreen.com

8 Responses to “Nonwoven is a Number 5 Plastic – Who Knew?”

  1. Allison January 4, 2009 at 10:47 AM #

    I have many bags from Whole Foods- are they not recyclable? Based on your article only “some” of these types of bags are recyclable. Many people buy these bags for $1 – $3 apiece from the grocery store and from places like Whole Foods, not from online sources. How can we know that the bags used by these establishments are one of the recyclable type?

    Thank you!

  2. Richard Tuttle January 4, 2009 at 6:22 PM #

    I recently looked at your article on non-woven polypropylene bags and found it quite interesting. For the eco minded, the use of these bags represent a very good effort to extend the use life of grocery bags and other type of consumer packaging. Not only are the non woven bags strong but they are quite durable. Polypropylene (PP) is just one type of “thermoplastic” that can be used many times in a recycling process like polyethylene (PE). These items are usually collected as post consumer scrap (PCS) and are separated by the polymer type using an optical sorter as PE and PP as well as other polymers are not compatible when mixed together in the same process. Recycle these items normally involves either re-melting the polymer down to it’s molten state and re-extruding it to make pellets or grinding the parts up to produce plastic “chips”. If a recycler melts the bags down, and then re-extrudes it to produces pellets, it can be sold on the open market as a “blend” material with virgin PP depending on the color. Non woven bags are made from a high melt flow PP or very viscose material. So proper blending with other PP is suggested to create a homogeneous blend of the various melt flows in the polymer. Black is the normal use for recycled materials as it covers the various colors in the stream. In the case of plastics chips, a molder can blend these material at their injection molding or extrusion machine with the virgin material to average down on cost. Many producers of “non FDA” or non food contact items require the use of some recycle material in their parts. In July 2008, most plastic materials were at there highest price point. In the case of polypropylene (PP), this average was over $1.00/lb. In this case, it was very economical to use recycled materials as a portion in the finished parts as the cost was about $0.30/lb – $0.40/lb. Today, the market has falled by a considerable amount due to the economy in general and the relatively low price of oil. Today, PP is selling below $0.50/lb. Without any government mandate, the cost to develop a recycle program (buy the PP scrap, wash it, reprocess it, and repackage it) does not give the recycler any margin which usually would motivate them to start this business. But, rather than throw away your plastic bags from the grocery store, the “use” and “reuse” of these non woven bags does represent less plastic in the waste stream.

  3. John Simonetta January 5, 2009 at 10:25 AM #

    Allison,

    Honestly it is hard enough for me to tell and we sell this stuff. I will say this. Most nonwovens are #5 (say 80-90%) because that is the way the industry is moving and number 5 is recyclable.

    If there is a recycled symbol on the bag it is likely a number 5.

    Frankly I would ask if you had any concerns.

    But also keep in mind Wal-Mart, Whole Foods, these are the type of clients Proforma sells to, and any large retailer should be smart enough to not sell a bag as recyclable unless it really is recyclable.

    These bags are normally available for two reasons 1) companies want to do their part to help the environment 2) companies more so WANT TO BE SEEN as doing their part to help the environment.

    For this reason any retailer with half a brain knows it is PR suicide to call a bag recyclable if it is not actually recyclable.

  4. John Simonetta January 5, 2009 at 11:37 AM #

    FYI: Gemline was nice enough to contact me after we wrote this article to say that their nonwoven bags are also #5s.

    See their stuff at http://www.gemline.com. They also carry some great organic cotton totes.

  5. Ann May 3, 2009 at 11:09 AM #

    I understand bag distributors are saying the bags are made from #5 plastic and can be recycled in programs that accept #5 for recycling, but do you know of any manufacturer that is actually recycling these bags? I am skeptical. It does not follow that just because it is made from #5 plastic that it can be recycled. Please direct me to a place that actually is accepting and recycling this product.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Nonwoven is a Number 5 Plastic - Who Knew? | 4 entrepreneur - January 7, 2009

    […] they are cheap and strong. You see them everywhere heavy stuff is getting carried around, the book store, farmers market, etc. They do their job […]

  2. Video: Big Thunder From Bag Makers : Ecopreneurist - February 15, 2009

    […] Bag Makers, Inc. has come out swinging in the nonwoven tote category with their new Big Thunder nonwoven tote bags. These bags are made from #5 plastic and like other nonwovens can be recycled wherever #5 plastics are accepted. […]

  3. Video: Big Thunder From Bag Makers | Eco Friendly Mag - February 15, 2009

    […] Bag Makers, Inc. has come out swinging in the nonwoven tote category with their new Big Thunder nonwoven tote bags. These bags are made from #5 plastic and like other nonwovens can be recycled wherever #5 plastics are accepted. […]

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