Last Friday, the American Chemistry Council (ACC) announced the winners of the 2014 Innovation in Plastics Recycling Awards, which aim to highlight innovations in the plastics recycling industry by recognizing companies and individuals who have brought to fruition new technologies, products and initiatives to the marketplace.
This year’s winners include two leading recycling companies and a nonprofit with the mission to equip businesses with the science and resources to make products more sustainable. “Their innovations will help expand the ongoing growth in plastics recycling and make more recycled plastics available to manufacturers,” said ACC’s v.p. of plastics Steve Russell.
• Geo-Tech Polymers LLC, Westerville, Ohio, has developed a patented process for removing coatings such as ink, chrome, paint, films, and labels from used plastics prior to reprocessing. If not removed, these coatings can impact the value or utility of recycled plastics. Independent analysis also demonstrates that the new process leaves no residual chemicals. Geo-Tech claims its process is decreasing the amount of plastics going to landfill while also increasing the number of applications available for recycled plastics.
• QRS Recycling, Louisville, Kentucky, has established Plastics Container Recovery Facilities (PRFs) to collect plastics that local Material Recovery Facilities (MRFs) do not recycle for various reasons. The company established PRFs within close proximity to numerous MRFs and equips them with sophisticated, sorting, washing, and grinding equipment to recover individual polymers. These PRFs provide a domestic market for plastics that previously were most often exported, and they capture plastics that could otherwise require significant processing or sorting equipment. PRFs divert more plastics from the waste stream and provide manufacturers with high-quality, post-consumer recycled resins, including PET, PE and PP. The company is engaged in ongoing efforts to capture PVC and PS as well.
• GreenBlue’s Sustainable Packaging Coalition, Charlottesville, Virginia, as developed a recycling label for packaging that clearly communicates recycling instructions to consumers. The Coalition created the How2Recycle Label in response to variations in recycling programs, unclear labeling, and inaccurate recyclability claims that impeded recycling. As one example, PE bags, films, and wraps can carry the Store Drop-off Label to inform consumers to recycle them at nearby drop-off locations instead of curbside. Major companies and brand owners such as Sealed Air, Target, Kimberly Clark, Clorox, and several others use the Store Drop-off Label on their products, which could significantly increase plastic film recycling.
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Left-to-Right: Craig Jung, Brokerage, QRS Recycling; Kelly Lahvic, Project Associate, GreenBlue; Gordon Jones, Director of Manufacturing, Geo-Tech Polymers; Ronald Whaley, CEO, Geo-Tech Polymers.