PreZero: Who We Are and What We Do

Welcome to the PreZero Blog! Let us tell you about our company

In a nutshell
PreZero U.S. is the North American branch of the world-renowned plastics recycler and manufacturer PreZero. Our company sets itself apart by gathering single-use plastic bags and film and turning them into reusable plastic bags for grocery, retail, and other vendors. Our goal is to eliminate the creation of any new plastic by encouraging the ongoing reuse of plastic in a “closed loop” approach. You probably have a few more questions, so let’s answer them:

What exactly is PreZero?
1.    PreZero is, first and foremost, a recycler of plastics dedicated to keeping plastics out of landfills, waterways, nature, and the environment. Period. 

2.    Our second role is giving that recycled plastic a second, third, and even fourth life. We use recycled plastics to create packaging that can be recycled again and again. This is known as a “closed loop” approach to manufacturing in which materials remain in sustainable use through a continuous recovery and recycling process. In fact, 40% of the plastic that goes into manufacturing our products is post-consumer recycled content—known in the industry as “PCR.” We design our packaging to become PCR itself and be brought back into our manufacturing process.

Where are you based?
Our parent company was founded in Germany in 2009. Nowadays, PreZero International has nearly 500 locations in 13 countries worldwide, including the PreZero U.S. recycling facility in Oroville, California. 

Where do you get your bags?
We have two primary sources of materials. 
1.    We buy used grocery/carryout bags and plastic film (the kind used to wrap veggies, bread, tortillas, and general food preservation). 
2.    Most come from bag-collection programs run by supermarkets and other retailers. Consumers drop the bags off at collection bins, where they then get moved from the store to our facility in Oroville. At PreZero, we’re supporting the growth of recycling infrastructure. We hope to make bag recycling every bit as common as recycling aluminum cans. If enough people do it, governments may start noticing and investing in bag recycling as part of curbside programs.

You play a key role in keeping bags out of landfills and the general environment simply by bringing them to a local store. Please do NOT put them in your curbside recycling bin. Local recycling systems aren’t equipped to process them. In fact, they can jam up a recycler’s machinery, taking valuable time away from the recycling process. 

What do you do with the bags?
What was once consumer trash is now our “feedstock.” All that pre-loved plastic, along with some virgin plastic, is fed into specialized machinery that breaks it down and eventually produces plastic pellets (also known by the catchy name “nurdles”). These pellets are then introduced into the manufacturing of new products, such as the sturdy, reusable, machine washable, and wholly recyclable plastic bags we make for companies like SavMart and American Eagle. You can get as many as 125 uses out of each bag before recycling them.

Why does this matter?
Plastic is an excellent material; our modern lifestyle couldn’t happen without it. From food preservation to everyday use, plastic bags and films save us money and reduce waste. Unfortunately, while plastic was initially developed to save our finite resources (trees), we’ve developed uses for plastic at a much greater rate than we have our capability to recycle it all. Those in the industry know that, and we’re doing everything we can to change the fact that not enough plastic gets recycled in the U.S.

Based on what you hear about the plastics industry in the media, you’d never know it’s filled with people who care about Planet Earth and the communities where their products are used. PreZero is just one of many plastics-affiliated companies and associations dedicated to eliminating plastic waste in the environment and creating a circular economy in which plastic is continuously recycled. This includes so-called “single-use” plastics that could be recycled if there were the infrastructure for recycling them.

What are you doing besides making bags?
We are active in helping reshape the industry. How? One way is through membership in the U.S. Plastics Pact–a consortium of plastics makers, plastics users, environmental groups, government agencies, and others whose mission is “to rethink the way we design, use, and reuse plastics, to create a path forward to realize a circular economy for plastic in the United States.” The Pact has four essential “targets” it seeks to achieve by 2025:

TARGET 1: Eliminate problematic or unnecessary materials from packaging.
TARGET 2: 100% of plastic packaging will be reusable, recyclable, or compostable.
TARGET 3: Effectively recycle or compost 50% of plastic packaging.
TARGET 4: Average 30% recycled content or responsibly sourced biobased content.

While PreZero supports all of the above, we are most excited about Target 4, having already exceeded the 30% PCR goal. We plan to do even more. Doing business with us means participating in the cause of responsible plastic use and the elimination of waste from the environment.

That’s who we are. That’s what we do. And we invite you to join us by getting every plastic bag and every bit of plastic film that comes into your house back into the recycling stream when you’re through with it. We’ll be ready and waiting to recycle it!