Republic Services Inc., Phoenix, has announced plans to construct an integrated plastics recycling facility in Las Vegas. The company says it will address increasing demand from consumer brands and packaging manufacturers for recycled plastic.
"Packaged goods manufacturers have set ambitious targets to use more postconsumer content in their products, but the current supply of recycled plastics falls short,” says Republic President and CEO Jon Vander Ark.
Dubbed the First Polymer Center, the facility is expected to open in 2023. According to a news release from the company, the facility is expected to produce more than 100 million pounds annually of recycled plastic products. This includes 100 percent postconsumer polyethylene terephthalate (PET) flake delivered to the food-grade marketplace to enable bottle-to-bottle circularity.
“The facility has an inbound design capacity of 160 million pounds,” says Pete Keller, Republic’s vice president of recycling and sustainability. “However, we anticipate processing less than that during initial ramp up.”
The facility will handle material from Republic’s facilities in the West as a result of increased demand for recycled content due to new legislation in California and Washington that requires postconsumer recycled plastic to be used in new products. Both require 15 percent postconsumer recycled plastic content that will gradually increase to 50 percent by 2030.
“Republic will mainly handle material from its recycling facilities in the western part of the U.S. but the site will also have the capacity for third-party volume,” Keller adds.
Engineering work for the facility has been completed and applications for permits for the site were submitted last week, Keller says. The facility will be built on an existing structure that will be expanded and retrofitted.
Keller says the company has purchased a turnkey system from Krones, based in Germany, that includes components from multiple technology providers. The facility will be equipped with optical sorters, bale-breaking equipment, wire-tie removal and recovery machinery. It also will use wet grinding and float-sink tank to separate PET from label and cap materials.
In addition to the First Polymer Center, Republic plans to build up to three more facilities like this in regions that will enable it to provide nationwide coverage. The facilities are expected to be operational by 2025, Keller says.
The company says the centers directly support its long-term sustainability goal to increase the recovery and circularity of key materials by 40 percent by 2030 and will help customers meet their sustainability goals.