Virtually all of our distribution centers include designs to simplify the reuse and recycling of the corrugated cardboard we receive from our vendors. In addition to cardboard, some of our distribution centers have systems in place to recycle other materials, such as scrap metal, pallets, paper, glass, plastic, aluminum, and organics.
In the U.S., our Asset Recovery and Recycling Centers (ARRCs) are located within many service centers and serve as a central destination for regional recyclable or reusable store material. Select stores send used corrugated cardboard, plastic, excess hangers, store fixtures, display cases, unused boxes, and other supplies to their local ARRC, where the items are processed for reuse in other stores or recycled. As of 2019, we operated 21 ARRC locations in the U.S. These ARRCs service about 68% of our T.J. Maxx and Marshalls stores.
The flexibility of the ARRC organization enables us to test new programs as we strive to increase the types of materials that can be included in our recycling stream. Thanks to this initiative and many others, in 2019 alone, we estimate the ARRCs helped divert more than 75,600 metric tons of waste from landfills.
Additionally, our ARRC organization and network provides the operational testing sites for the Company to implement new technologies and processes that enable better recycling of priority materials. For example, as our global waste stakeholders have identified Styrofoam as a key area of focus, we were able to leverage the ARRC to pilot strategies to improve our management of polystyrene packaging material. In a select ARRC location, we installed machinery that compresses and melts Styrofoam into blocks, which are then sent to recycling centers for reuse. In 2019, we were able to divert an estimated 28 metric tons of Styrofoam from landfills. Members of our ARRC leadership along with Store Operations, Facilities, and Environmental Sustainability teams are working together to assess the performance of this pilot as well as to explore other potential approaches to remove polystyrene and other priority materials from our trash waste stream.
When we are not able to reuse the packaging that arrives from our vendors to transport merchandise to our stores, we strive to include environmental impact analytics in the selection process for packaging materials where feasible. For example, we have analyzed the lifecycle impacts of select internal-packaging and fragile-packing materials in our T.J. Maxx and Marshalls distribution centers, as well as the impact of using plastic totes versus cardboard boxes in the U.S. We analyzed the impact of removing plastic bags from our packaging of liquid products during shipping from distribution centers to stores. The solution that we implemented utilizes a more easily recyclable material and corrugated box inserts and resulted in an estimated 12 million fewer plastic bags being used across our distribution network each year. Additionally, this packaging solution was prioritized for inclusion within our reuse program and in 2019, we brought back over 1.2 million items to our distribution centers as a result.
Our distribution centers in Ontario, Canada, encourage waste reduction and recyclability through our procurement policy and Associate education efforts. In 2019, we achieved a combined approximately 95% diversion rate in our distribution centers!
We are pleased with our diversion rates across Europe and, in particular, our European processing centers, which divert 98% of waste and recycle plastic, wooden pallets, and cardboard. In our e-commerce operations, we have replaced bubble wrap packaging used for our e-commerce shipments with a recyclable paper alternative. We also backhaul cardboard and clear plastics, including bubble wrap, from the majority of stores in the U.K. to processing centers. We continue to look for opportunities for initiatives to support enhanced environmental performance.