Is the Hefty ReNew Program right for Cincinnati?

plastic waste

The Hefty ReNew program is being considered by the Cincinnati City Council; it has been proposed and would be managed by Rumpke. This program intends to collect a wide variety of plastic packaging, plastic dinnerware, plastic bags along with wrapping and foam products.

The Hefty ReNew program requires use of specially marked and colorized bags that must be purchased by citizens and put out on their recycling day. We understand that Walmart has the bags for sale for 48 cents per bag. This cost creates an equity issue as some economically marginalized citizens may be excluded from participating.

The Hefty ReNew website is very vague on the end market for the recycled items. There is little description of the products to be made from the collected plastic. Questions arise about one such item. HydroBlox, intended to be used in underground drainage systems. These blocks cannot be further recycled. This is referred to as “downcycling”. When these blocks deteriorate, they will become microplastic pollution and contribute to environmental contamination.

The Miami Group of the Sierra Club is opposed to this program. It will be very energy-intensive for both transportation costs and the production of the bags for collection; basically creating new plastic bags to collect used plastic items. Finally, the Cincinnati Reuse and Recycling Hub can already handle all these items in their local facility.

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