To grow the circular economy for hard-to-recycle plastics in Penang, Malaysia, the Penang State Government has partnered with RRS, Fonterra, Thong Guan Industries Berhad, The Circulate Initiative, and FFM Berhad to conduct a feasibility study for the collection of films and flexible plastic packaging. The study will be led by RRS and Penang Green Council (PGC), with PGC leading local coordination and outreach and RRS leading the recycling system evaluation and pilot plan.

The goal of the study is to establish an economic and environmentally preferred pathway for consumers to recycle film and flexibles in Penang in order to develop an effective collection and recovery model that may be replicated in other communities and further grow the circular economy for plastics in Malaysia.

The target material for this study is film and flexible packaging, also known as “soft plastics,” which is used for retail and packaging applications (e.g., bread bags, chip bags, candy wrappers) which are considered hard-to-recycle materials. Through evaluating current systems, conducting a recycling audit, and gathering data from a large consumer survey, the study will identify the best methods for film and flexibles segregation and collection that is convenient to consumers and provide waste service providers with clean, pre-sorted waste. This will result in increased volumes of material available for recovery and recycling by end markets. Finding a better solution will prevent these plastics from being dumped, burned, or disposed in landfills and leaked into the environment.

The feasibility study is the first phase of RRS and PGC’s project, and it will inform the pilot which will be implemented in the second phase. Results from the feasibility study will be presented in early 2023.