Bedford Industries unveils new TagBack program

Worthington Hy-Vee hosts the first recycling collection bin for Bedford tags and ties.

Bedford TagBack1
Bedford Industries marketing specialist Belinda Heidebrink (left) and Hy-Vee Store Director DeWayne McIntyre show the new TagBack collection bin inside Worthington Hy-Vee Friday. (Tim Middagh / The Globe)

WORTHINGTON — Bedford Industries recently announced its new TagBack initiative, a sustainability effort that invites growers, retailers and consumers to return tags and ties to Bedford for recycling.

Bedford Industries President Jay Milbrandt explained that Bedford, as the leading manufacturer of produce tags and ties, is making efforts to bridge the gap in sustainability that exists in the current supply chain.

The U.S. recycling system does not accept any object smaller than a three-inch cube — meaning almost all of the tags and ties produced by Bedford are ineligible for general recycling. To help alleviate this waste, Bedford previously invested in specialized recycling equipment for use in-house to recycle defective product.

The TagBack initiative represents an extension of these efforts to include the general public. Growers, retailers and consumers now may all return tags and ties to Bedford, and Bedford either will sort and recycle them into new product or sell them to manufacturers who will use the material for plastic shelving and lumber.

"It's good for the planet, it's the right thing to do, but it's also good for business," Milbrandt said of the program.


He noted that a consistent dilemma in produce tag design is creating packaging that is durable, scannable and sustainable, all at the same time.

"We're hoping to be that solution," Milbrandt said.

Bedford Vice President of Marketing Deb Houseman explained that some of the growers who purchase Bedford products have been receiving envelopes full of tags and ties stockpiled by consumers. Before the TagBack program, the growers didn't know what to do with these items. Now, they can forward the tags and ties to Bedford for recycling.

Bedford representatives first introduced the TagBack initiative in mid-October at the Product Marketing Association's Fresh Summit in Anaheim, California. Houseman said the conference garnered positive feedback on the program from growers.

"It was refreshing to people to see an actionable solution," Milbrandt added, noting that the TagBack program doesn't require any major changes in equipment or process for any entity along the supply chain.

The TagBack program can be executed in a number of ways. Bedford will print the TagBack logo and website url on tags and ties. The company has also created TagBack collection bins with the idea that retailers may place them near store entrances, similar to plastic bag recycling containers.

The first Bedford collection bin was installed Friday morning inside Worthington's Hy-Vee.

"I think it's pretty neat," Hy-Vee Store Director DeWayne McIntyre said. "I hope customers really try to use it."


McIntyre noted that the community values efforts to go green, and use of the collection bin will just be a matter of building a new habit. He's working with Bedford to place a placard at each register reminding customers to save their tags and ties for the TagBack collection box.

Another option is for consumers to mail tags and ties directly to Bedford Industries, c/o TagBack, 1659 Rowe Avenue, P.O. Box 39, Worthington 56187-0039.

As the TagBack initiative is implemented globally, Bedford will evaluate which strategies are most efficient and preferred by growers, retailers and consumers.

Bedford TagBack 2
The new Bedford Industries TagBack initiative accepts produce tags and ties for recycling. The first TagBack collection bin is located inside Worthington Hy-Vee. (Tim Middagh / The Globe)

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