How does the Hefty® EnergyBag®
program work?


Where the program is available: Families purchase program bags at their local retailer.


They fill the Hefty® orange bag with acceptable, hard-to-recycle plastics.


They tie up the full orange bag and put it into a curbside recycling bin / cart.


A recycling hauler collects and delivers the bags to the local Material Recovery Facility (MRF) as part of its normal recycling service and schedule; beyond the retail cost of the orange bags, there is no extra charge to participants.


The MRF sorts and pulls the orange bags, then forwards them to a facility for use as valued resources.

EnergyBag® Program quick facts.

  • The Hefty® EnergyBag® program has successfully diverted 1 million pounds of plastics from landfills.
  • The Hefty® EnergyBag® program is available to more than 500,000 households in 13 communities.
  • To date, over 300 tons of plastics have been converted into valuable resources.
  • Participation in the Hefty® EnergyBag® program continues to increase each year.


Designed to complement current recycling efforts, the Hefty® EnergyBag® program provides a way to collect otherwise hard-to-recycle plastics at curbside and turn them into valued resources. The program is clearly demonstrating its ability to help divert these resources away from landfills, reduce dependence on fossil fuels, increase efficiency at recycling facilities, and improve the quality of other recycled materials. In doing so, the Hefty® EnergyBag® program takes an important step toward a more circular plastics economy and a more sustainable future.

Consumers in participating program areas purchase the Hefty® EnergyBag® orange bags from local retailers and use these bags to collect hard-to-recycle plastics. Once full, the bags are tied and placed in the curbside cart or bin.

Participants' current haulers pick up the tied orange bags along with their normal recycling. The recycling center can then readily separate these bags from the other materials and send them on to facilities that can use them and their contents as an energy resource — or break them down to create new and useful products.

Dow approached Reynolds Consumer Products with the idea of recovering hard-to-recycle plastics for the energy and other potentially valuable resources they contain. The first full implementation of the Hefty® EnergyBag® program took place in Omaha, Nebraska, in late 2016 as a collaboration effort between Reynolds Consumer Products, Dow, and First Star Recycling.

The Hefty® EnergyBag® program is available to more than 500,000 households in 13 communities. See the communities here. Together, participants have helped divert over 1,000,000 pounds of hard-to-recycle plastics from their local landfills.

The Hefty® EnergyBag® program:

· Provides a solution for plastics that can’t readily be recycled today

· Diverts more plastics from landfills

· Complements and can improve conventional recycling programs

· Provides an alternative energy source and may soon furnish feedstock for creating fuels and other valuable products

· Advances a shared vision of a circular economy and more sustainable future

Some plastics can be difficult to recycle because of their type, complexity, shape, or flexibility, and the challenges they can create for equipment at recycling facilities. Only 9% of our current plastic waste is recycled and 79% ends up in landfills 1. This 79% includes most of what we consider hard-to-recycle plastics. Plastics marked with the Resin Identification Code (RIC) 1 or 2 are the most common, and pretty much every Material Recovery Facility (MRF) accepts them. Those marked with numbers 4 (LDPE), 5 (PP), 6 (PS), and 7 (OTHER) are considered hard to recycle. These items include snack bags, candy wrappers, straws, and more. Mixing hard-to-recycle plastics with other recyclables in curbside recycling bins can jam up processing equipment and contaminate entire batches of otherwise readily recyclable materials, stripping them of value and causing them all to end up in landfills. Hence the importance of the Hefty® EnergyBag® program.

1 Parker, Laura (2018, December 20). Here’s How Much Plastic Trash Is Littering the Earth. National Geographic Society. Retrieved from

You can include many plastic items that cannot be recycled in your existing recycling program. Learn more about items that are accepted here.

Our message is simple: if you’re able to recycle a plastic material in your regular curbside recycling program, then continue to do so. If you can’t, rather than throwing that plastic in the trash, put it in your Hefty® EnergyBag® orange bags.

The specially designed Hefty® orange bags keep all the loose, hard-to-recycle plastics separate from the other materials participants recycle. The bag is tough enough to survive the recycling truck. The bright color makes it easy for recycling facilities to separate and forward the materials they cannot process, so the hard-to-recycle plastics don’t contaminate metal, glass, paper, and other recycling streams.