Across the Novolex portfolio, we take a holistic view of the total lifecycle of our products. This includes consideration of the environmental, economic and social impacts of our products at each phase of the value chain – from the choice of materials and production processes to the way our products are used and disposed of. When viewed through this lens, each type of product in our portfolio presents customers with choices. Given the array of available options, we work closely with our customers to understand their needs, discuss alternatives and help balance their requirements with an understanding of the environmental impact that materials and disposal strategies can have.
We make our products with a wide range of materials that offer reduced environmental impacts, with 49% of our raw materials coming from recycled or renewable sources. Almost half of all the fiber we purchase is post-consumer recycled content (PCR). Molded fiber-based products such as clamshells can be made not only with recycled material but also with renewable, plant-based materials such as bagasse (sugar cane). Many plastic products also use recycled content, and others are made with plant-based polymers as an alternative to resins derived from fossil fuels. To further conserve materials, we also design products that provide the same benefits but weigh less — by downgauging — thus reducing the amount of material used.
Many Novolex products are designed to be recycled, reused, or composted after use. In 2022, 78% of applicable* Novolex revenues came from products designed for uses that support the circular economy. These include paper and plastic bags for delivery and carryout; containers for prepared food from restaurants, supermarkets, and delis; and more. Our DublLife® paper and Hilex plastic bags, which also use recycled content, are among the most widely recycled or composted products. Eco-Products® offers a variety of products that are made with plant-based materials, such as Vanguard plates, WorldView bowls, and clamshells made with molded fiber. These products are sought out by foodservice establishments — from small restaurants to arenas and stadiums — that are committed to composting. Some Novolex products such as trash can liners and films used in building construction are not intended to be recycled and are excluded from the calculation above.
*Applicable products exclude products such as Heritage can liners and construction films designed for uses that do not provide the potential for recycling.
Novolex products touch the lives of millions of consumers every day. Everyone has a role in ensuring our products are properly disposed of. But we take our responsibility seriously and whenever possible display easy-to-understand labeling to help consumers understand how to dispose of packaging so that it can be recycled or composted.
Novolex is a member of the How2Recycle® program that provides labels to display on products that show consumers what to do when the package is ready to be disposed of. We partner with customers to help them adopt the How2Recycle labeling system for the packaging we make for them. Novolex also displays How2Recycle labels on many of our stock products.
In addition to How2Recycle, Novolex participates with other industry organizations, including the Association of Plastic Recyclers in the U.S. and RECOUP in the U.K. Each of these organizations promotes design standards and labeling to improve recovery and reduce contamination in recycling streams. To advocate for and develop composting infrastructure, Novolex also works with industry coalitions such as the Biodegradable Products Institute and the Compost Manufacturing Alliance.
Learn more about the right way to appropriately label products for consumer education with the Novolex and How2Recycle label guide.
In 2022, we announced a $10 million investment to increase recycling capacity at our North Vernon, Indiana, recycling facility. With this investment, we have set a target to double the volume of post-consumer polyethylene (PE) films that we recycle in North Vernon by the end of 2024.
Novolex is a leader in recycling. Two of our facilities can recycle different types of polyethylene film used in stretch wrap, plastic bags, dry cleaning bags, bread bags, and other applications. We acquire and process these films, and use the recycled resin in our products.
Some films are collected from “back-of-house” waste at grocery and retail stores, as well as warehouses and e-commerce distribution centers, where film is used to package incoming deliveries of boxes and pallets. We also receive used plastic film from consumers who return it at “Store Drop Off” collection centers at grocery stores and supermarkets. Store collection programs complement municipal curbside recycling efforts that may not collect plastic bags and other film. To facilitate store drop-off, many of our plastic retail bags and other PE films display recycling information provided by the How2Recycle® program. For years, we’ve also partnered with retailers to provide bins for front-of-store collection.
We further support film recycling as members of the Flexible Packaging Association and the American Recyclable Plastic Bag Alliance (ARPBA). Both organizations advocate for sound public policies to support film recycling and promote consumer awareness about the recyclability of plastic film, including plastic retail bags which are among the most widely recyclable products made from resin.
Novolex is a proud contributor to the Alliance to End Plastic Waste, a multinational and multi-sector non-profit composed of plastics value chain members that are committed to keeping plastic waste out of the environment. Established in 2019, Alliance programs are expanding globally — creating recycling infrastructure, building markets for post-consumer recycled material, and encouraging consumers to recycle. View Report