Have you ever wondered what’s in the recycled products and packaging you see on the shelves? Simply put, there are many. Take Sustana Fiber’s recycling plant in Depere, Wisconsin, for example. When the factory opened 30 years before him, it processed almost exclusively paper. Today, about half of the fiber the company receives comes from product packaging such as tubs, cartons, and even foil-lined potato chip cans, said Jim Schneider, the company’s vice president of operations, in Triple Pandit. Told.
Factory techniques and procedures provide sufficient quality for a true circular process. For example, a branded coffee cup can be reprocessed into fiber and used in another food grade cup from the same brand. Almost every raw material that comes in is used for some purpose, whether it’s food packaging or animal bedding.
As the functionality expands, supplies will be required. Access to recyclable materials also requires efficient community infrastructure.
The US Environmental Protection Agency reports that virtually every aspect of the country’s recycling infrastructure needs to be strengthened. Consumers are confused about what and how to recycle, manufacturers and recyclers miss opportunities to work together, and the market for recycled materials is weakening. “Entrepreneurship is alive and well in our industry,” Joe Riconosciuto, his director of marketing and recycling for materials at Republic Services, told American Recycler this month, amid the challenges to textile recycling.
Sustana Fiber, on the other hand, certainly wasn’t waiting for the paper to drop on her doorstep. Working with local and national stakeholders has enabled the company to expand its product offerings. This means more business for recycling plants at a time when fiber sources such as office paper and newsprint are declining. It means preserving the best value as we move through the economy, eliminating as much waste and pollution as possible in the process.
Converting the linear relationship between companies and recycling plants into a circle
Critical to the progress of recycling plants is partnerships with companies that design and market their products, with the goal of helping these brands use more recycled materials and make their packaging easier to recycle.
For example, labels and other promotional materials are one potential market for Sustana Fiber. “This is a perfect example of where we have a very valuable fiber source that is currently mostly landfilled,” Schneider said. Sustana Fiber has developed a technique that removes the siliconized layer from the label liner and cleans the fiber sufficiently to create a new label. A more circular system.
In other cases, Sustana Fiber works with companies to develop new products. In an ideal scenario, companies would contact their local recycling plant to ensure that the product they are designing is compatible with the plant’s machinery. “You don’t have to know what it is,” said Schneider. “But we’ll know very soon if it’s recycled in our process.” One of his pieces of advice he shares with companies is to be careful how they innovate away from plastic. Although problematic, plastic is one of the easiest materials to separate from fibers during recycling, and materials that replace plastic in some applications can be more difficult to process. .
When partnering with companies, the connection usually starts in a straight line. In other words, companies want to recycle their products and packaging at the end of their life. “As these relationships develop, that one-sided line begins to bend and turn into a circle. Ultimately, some companies are willing to go from simply recycling materials to putting that recycled material back into their products.
End push marketing and empower consumers to recycle
The other side of outreach is with consumers. Push his marketing doesn’t do much when it comes to educating the public. “Brand owners or consumers have to go through with these things,” explained Schneider.
In 2018 Sustana Fiber partnered with the Carton Council for consumer consent. The Carton Council is an industry group dedicated to expanding carton recycling in the United States. His year-long collaboration efforts included chatbots and social media quizzes. , and pledge. “The Carton Council does a very good job of sending the message that these materials are recyclable,” Schneider said.[Cartons] A very effective source of dietary fiber. ”
In another move to collect more recyclable materials through education, Sustana Fiber recently signed a commitment to increase recycling of paper cups. The company, along with its North American paper mills and end markets, accounts for 75% of mixed paper demand in the United States and Canada. “All recycling is end-market dependent, and not all factories can easily separate the plastic coatings found on paper cups,” said Nasa Dempsey of the Foodservice Packaging Institute, an organization that facilitated the commitment. “However, establishments that have signed this declaration are spotlighting not only their capabilities, but their commitment to accepting paper cups,” the president said in a statement.
Ultimately, Schneider wants everyone in the textile supply chain to understand the value of so-called post-consumer materials. “We don’t want [fiber] Beyond the first or second use, it ends up in landfills because it is a superior raw material that has a long lifespan. Overall, he’s hopeful about the direction the industry is taking.
This article series is sponsored by Sustana Fiber and produced by the TriplePundit editorial team.
Image credit: Sustana Fiber