Clamshell Recycling

In 2009, Dordan discovered that clamshells were not recyclable. Dordan began a 5-year initiative to make clamshells recyclable, which concluded with the successful incorporation of PET clamshells in the post-consumer recycling infrastructure.

Clamshell Recycling, 2009-2015

Supply & demand | Collection | Sortation | End markets

In 2009, Dordan discovered that much of the thermoformed packaging it manufactures was not collected for recycling; consequentially, Dordan began an investigation into the complexities of recycling in America, narrated in its then blog, Recycling in America.

Recycling in America caught the attention of Walmart Canada's Sustainable Packaging Coordinator, who was organizing a working group of PET stakeholders to investigate how to increase PET thermoform recycling in Canada. Invited to serve as the co-lead of this Material Optimization Committee, Dordan worked with Walmart Canada from 2009-2010, learning about the economics of waste management and the the obstacles to recycling thermoformed packaging. These efforts culminated with the release of Dordan's 2010 Recycling Report, The Truth about Clamshell and Blister Recycling in America with Suggestions for Industry. Here, Dordan's Sustainability Coordinator, Chandler Slavin, discussed why thermoformed packaging like plastic clamshells are not recycled, with suggestions for what the industry could do to overcome these barriers.

After it's publication, Dordan was invited to present at industry events on its research and became an integral player in the discourse around plastic packaging recycling.

  • In 2011, Dordan was awarded the cover feature of Green Manufacturer Magazine for its efforts to recycle thermoformed plastic packaging.

  • In 2012, Moore Recycling Associates reported that PET thermoformed packaging was now collected for recycling in the majority of American communities; therefore, plastic clamshells were officially recyclable.

  • In 2013, Dordan published a follow up to its 2010 Recycling Report, The State of Post-Consumer PET Recycling: Past, Present & Future. This report described how the industry collaborated to remove the obstacles to PET thermoform collection for recycling; and, was awared the cover story of Plastics in Packaging magazine.

  • In 2015, Dordan published its last report, Postconsumer PET Thermoformed Containers: Recyclable vs. Recycled, and was featured on the cover of Plastics in Packaging Magazine.