In November 2018, Cobb County in Atlanta, Georgia launched a community level program administered through Keep America Beautiful known as the Hefty® EnergyBag® program. As part of Cobb County’s existing waste management infrastructure, the program was a significant step to achieving positive long-term environmental and economic advantages, including fewer plastics ending up in landfills.
How Does the Program Work?
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.
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
Within 10 months of program launch, more than 20,000 residents expressed interest in participating, involving additional recycling haulers. Within that time, participating residents have diverted more than 33.6 tons of materials that would have otherwise gone to landfill.
In late November 2019, Cobb County started phase 2 of the program to engage another 15,000 households, making the program available to new communities with additional haulers throughout Cobb County.
Learn more about the Hefty® EnergyBag® program here.