Republic Services' new integrated facility addresses increased recycled plastic demand
Republic Services has unveiled development plans for what Republic Services says is the nation's first integrated plastics recycling facility, which will directly address increasing demand from consumer brands and packaging manufacturers for recycled plastic, enabling greater circularity. The Republic Services Polymer Center will manage the plastics stream through an integrated process from curbside collection of recycled material to production and delivery of high-quality recycled content for consumer packaging.
"Packaged goods manufacturers have set ambitious targets to use more post-consumer content in their products, but the current supply of recycled plastics falls short. The Republic Services Polymer Center will help meet the increasing demand for a reliable, high-quality supply of recycled plastics, assisting brands in achieving their sustainability goals," said Jon Vander Ark, Republic Services president and chief executive officer. "This is a critical step forward in solving the plastics circularity challenge."
In the U.S., only about 30 percent of single-use plastic bottles and jugs are recycled. Even when these plastics are placed in the recycling bin, their lifecycle is not always circular. Instead of being recycled back into consumer packaging, these plastics often are downcycled into products such as textiles or carpet, or to industrial uses like construction pipe, which have few options for further recycling.
Brands continue to make voluntary sustainability pledges to increase the use of recycled content in consumer packaging, while states such as California and Washington are requiring the use of recycled content in single-use plastic containers. Despite this growing demand, there is not enough high-quality recycled plastic for manufacturers to use in consumer packaging. The Polymer Center will help bridge the gap between curbside collections and manufacturers' needs, providing a reliable supply of domestically sourced recycled plastics for use in food-grade and other consumer packaging.
Rigid plastics collected from residential and commercial customers and sorted at local recycling facilities will be delivered to Republic Services' Polymer Center for processing, including shredding and hot washing or sorting by colour. The facility is expected to produce more than 100 million pounds per year of recycled plastic products including 100 percent post-consumer PET flakes delivered to the food-grade marketplace to enable bottle-to-bottle circularity. In addition, HDPE and PP packaging such as detergent jugs, which today are collected in multicoloured bundles, can be separated by plastic type and colour, allowing, for example, an orange jug to be recycled into another orange jug.
The first Polymer Center, opening in Las Vegas in 2023, will process plastics from Republic's recycling facilities in the west, where legislation is driving increased demand for recycled content. Republic Services anticipates opening two to three more centres to provide national coverage and further drive circularity.