Wed June 19, 2019

First Regional Project of Its Kind Could Drive Nationwide Change in Recycling Capabilities

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 19, 2019—Responding to the urgent need to improve recycling rates, plastic and packaging makers today launched a 60-day recycling demonstration project in Portland, Ore. The project aims to demonstrate how a wider range of materials can be captured from the curbside recycling stream.

The innovative project involves installing a portable secondary sorting system at the Far West Recycling materials recovery facility (MRF), which is being provided by Titus MRF Services.  Selected materials from four regional MRFs will be further sorted, creating six additional streams of recyclables. It will be managed by the Plastics Industry Association (PLASTICS) with funding from the American Chemistry Council, Americas Styrenics, Berry Global, Carton Council, LyondellBasell and Metro.

“MRFs across the country are doing their best to extract value and marketable commodities for domestic markets, but many are technologically limited in what they can recover and sort for,” said Kim Holmes, vice president of sustainability at PLASTICS. “With this project the funders hope to show what is possible when secondary sorting capability is brought into a region to further sort that valuable material, sending it to market rather than the landfill.”

The materials collected—which include a wide range of packaging forms and types of plastics, as well as gable top and aseptic cartons—will be measured, sorted and marketed showing how the efficiencies and economics of recycling can be positively shifted with added secondary sorting capabilities. The data collected through the course of this project could help inform communities across the U.S. about the new streams of material that could be captured from their curbside programs. For the funders of the project, creating new streams of valuable recycled materials will help them, and many others meet the growing post-consumer recycled material (PCR) demand.

Roy Brower, director of regional waste programs for Metro, a regional government serving the greater Portland metropolitan area said, “Metro is working with the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, local recyclers and others to ensure that the region has a strong and resilient recycling system in the future. Metro is supporting this demonstration project because it will test a potential innovative sorting approach that could increase recycling.”

"Titus MRF Services is excited to work with the Portland Area MRFs,” said Mike Centers, founder and president of Titus MRF Services. “Together we will use the portable sorting system to demonstrate sorting technologies, conduct material audits and use that data to learn how best to sort more materials placed in the recycling bin by the area’s homeowners.” 

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About Plastics Industry Association

The Plastics Industry Association (PLASTICS), formerly SPI, is the only organization that supports the entire plastics supply chain, representing nearly one million workers in the $432 billion U.S. industry. Since 1937, PLASTICS has been working to make its members and the industry more globally competitive while advancing recycling and sustainability. To learn more about PLASTICS’ education initiatives, industry-leading insights and events, networking opportunities and policy advocacy, and North America’s largest plastics trade show, NPE: The Plastics Show, visit Connect with PLASTICS on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.