Creating a Circular Economy for Flexible Packaging & Film


Flexible packaging films are found throughout the food and agriculture supply chain — from bread bags and zip-top pouches to single use shopping bags, hay bales and the pallet wrap that is used when products are shipped and stored.

These plastic films are typically made of virgin material, used once and then discarded. MBOLD is pioneering development of a circular economy for this type of plastic to reduce its environmental impact, curtail waste and give these materials a new life.


The use of flexible packaging film is expanding rapidly. This material is pervasive in the food and agriculture sectors and used widely across many other sectors of our economy as well. The U.S. economy uses about 12-15 billion pounds of it per year.

However, in the U.S., only about 5% of this material gets recycled. That means virgin materials are used to make more flexible films, and after a single use, the packaging is all too often discarded, ending up in landfills or littering the environment.

what mbold is doing

MBOLD is developing a circular economy for flexible film packaging — specifically polyethylene film — starting in the Upper Midwest.  

MBOLD is working to expand film recycling infrastructure and increase the supply of recycled resin for use in new film products, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and curtailing waste. Compared with virgin plastics, studies show that use of recycled polyethylene resins offers significant life cycle benefits, including a 65 percent reduction in total energy used, a 59 percent reduction in water consumption and a 71 percent reduction in global warming potential.   

One of the biggest hurdles is developing products that can be manufactured from recycled film and sold profitably. Without those markets, recyclers don’t have an economically compelling reason to collect and recycle this material, no matter how much of it is available. MBOLD has been exploring and identifying potential uses for the material and evaluating how our members, in conjunction with others, can help build the market demand needed to make a circular economy hum.

By working together, we are catalyzing a new circular economy that will expand access to film recycling in the Upper Midwest, increase the supply of recycled resin for use in new film products and cut emissions.

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MBOLD aims to make Minnesota a global leader in soil health and water stewardship in collaboration with stakeholders across our region.

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