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PLASTIC LOOSE-FILL COLLECTION PROGRAM OBSERVES ONE-YEAR ANNIVERSARY

 PLASTIC LOOSE-FILL COLLECTION PROGRAM OBSERVES ONE-YA?NNIVERSARY
 GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., July 9 /PRNewswire/ -- A nationwide reuse/recyling program for polystyrene foam packaging "peanuts" marked its first year of operation recently.
 The reuse/recycling program was formally introduced in July 1991 by the Plastic Loose-Fill Producers' Council. According to John Mellott, newly appointed council chairman, the program has been highly successful in fulfilling its mission of facilitating the reuse and recycling of plastic loose-fill.
 Mellott said that prior to the program, it was widely believed that the only way to dispose of plastic loose-fill was to throw it away. "Our program combats this misunderstanding through public education and by providing a nationwide collection infrastructure that channels loose- fill away from landfills and back into multiple-use cycles as a packaging material. Loose-fill was never a significant component of solid waste," Mellott said. "But now, instead of throwing loose-fill into the trash, people can take this highly reusable material to a collection center, where it can be used over and over again as packaging material."
 "We introduced the program last July with approximately 1,200 locations serving as collection centers for plastic loose-fill," said Mellott. "As of July 1 of this year, the number of collection locations had increased to over 2,600, and we're adding more every week." Mellott credits the receptiveness of postal/packaging businesses for the increase in collection centers. "The support we've received from Associated Mail & Parcel Center, Mail Boxes Etc., The Packaging Store, Pak-Mail, and hundreds of other similar businesses, has helped us make reuse and recycling of plastic loose-fill convenient for millions of people across the country."
 Mellott said another key component of the program is the toll-free phone service that provides callers with the location of the nearest collection center. "When we began the program, we weren't sure how many people would take advantage of the 800 number," said Mellott. "But the response has been overwhelming. In just 12 months, we've answered more than 55,000 calls -- sometimes as many as 2,500 in a single week."
 Mellott explained that the success of the program is based on its simplicity and the fact that "it's a win-win situation for everyone who participates."
 "By using package insert cards with our 800 number printed on them, participating mail order companies have virtually eliminated complaints from customers who previously objected to the use of loose-fill. Providing customers a convenient means to keep loose-fill out of landfills allows participating companies to be responsive to their customers' environmental concerns without giving up the economic advantages of loose-fill." Mellott reported that he's aware of approximately 200 mail order firms that promote the program by using insert cards in shipments.
 Karen Joffee, environmental issues specialist for San Francisco- based cataloger Williams-Sonoma, said "The loose-fill recovery program has enabled us to continue using the best packaging fill and satisfy most of our customers' environmental concerns about plastic packaging. We mail over 3 million packages per year."
 Businesses participating as collection centers also benefit from the program, said packaging store owner and Associated Mail & Parcel Center member Joby Sawyer of Houston. Sawyer reported that he now has access to a supply of free packaging material he'd otherwise have to purchase. Since joining the program last December, said Sawyer, he hasn't had to purchase any loose-fill. "One particular company that found our store through the council has donated 53 bags full of clean loose-fill."
 Those sentiments are echoed by Carol Rice, owner of the Mail Boxes Etc. franchise in downtown Evanston, Ill. Rice was an early supporter of the loose-fill collection program and used her store as a test center for the Chicago area. Rice said, "This program has been wonderful for the goodwill of the store and business in general. We've consistently had between five and eight people a week coming in to drop off loose- fill, and the number of people is increasing as more and more people learn about the recycling program. As an initial participant in the program, I couldn't be more pleased with it and its continued growth."
 After just one year in operation, the loose-fill collection program is already regarded by many in the plastics industry, the environmental community, and in government as one of the most successful such environmental initiatives developed. "We're pleased that the program has made such a significant impact in just a relatively short time," said Mellott. "We're looking forward to even bigger accomplishments in the future."
 -0- 7/9/92
 /CONTACT: Virginia Lyle of Free-Flow Packaging, 415-364-1145; or Howard Rice of Alexander Marketing Services, 616-957-2000, for Plastic Loose-Fill Producers' Council/ CO: Plastic Loose-Fill Producers' Council ST: Michigan IN: SU:


SB-DH -- DE018 -- 7947 07/09/92 15:25 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Jul 9, 1992
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