FACILITY TRAINS DISABLED ADULTS, HANDLES HARD-TO-RECYCLE SCRAP

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Protect the Planet, a job training facility in Waukesha, Wis., has a dual purpose: to provide jobs for disabled adults and to reclaim and sort plastics that other recyclers may reject.

With 30 employees, Protect the Planet, a nonprofit organization affiliated with the Waukesha Training Center, recycles all post-industrial plastic. The agency will take sprues and runners, bad parts and film.

``We're not limited, we'll try anything,'' said plant manager Guy Bretl.

Protect the Planet will take a sample of the material, try regrinding it and finding a buyer for it.

The organization does some collecting but prefers to have the material dropped off.

``We thought our target would be department stores like Kohl's,'' Bretl added.

However, the 2-year-old agency has found itself doing more toll work.

``Other recyclers will bring jobs to us that they may not have taken. Often it involves lots of sorting. Then we'll regrind and return the material,'' he said.

In the 12,000-square-foot facility, employees have honed their sorting skills. Rigid products are sorted, reground and returned or marketed while film is baled and sold to recyclers with densifying equipment.

``Our goal is to provide a very realistic work experience,'' Bretl said.

Employees are chosen from the work force at Waukesha Training Center. While at Protect the Planet, they polish their skills and work is found for them.

``We started this for the people,'' added Bretl. ``We're not in it for the business of recycling.''

Even though recycling as a business venture is secondary, the agency has recycled 675,000 pounds of low density polyethylene and 540,000 pounds of polystyrene, ABS, polycarbonate, high density PE, acetal and nylon since opening in November 1994.