ATLANTA - All those T-shirts and key chains emblazoned with the logo of the Atlanta Olympic Games already in circulation pale in comparison to the trove that will result from the huge waste stream the Games are generating. Wellman Inc. of Shrewsbury, N.J., the leading recycler of PET in North America and one of the major polyester fiber makers, will recycle the expected 27 million plastic soda and water bottles to be collected at the Games.
Royal Recycling Co., the Atlanta company selected to provide recycling management services for the event, chose Wellman to receive the PET bottles used and discarded by the estimated 2 million visitors to Atlanta during the Olympics.
Wellman spokeswoman Judith Langan said the company will use the Atlanta waste bottles to make enough fiber to make 1,999,995 T-shirts, 800,002 sweaters, 134,333,366 pairs of jeans and 165,006 belts.
The company markets its EcoSpun recycled polyester fiber to major clothing manufacturers, which turn it into garments certified as 100 percent recycled post-consumer material.
Wellman has the capacity to recycle about 240 million pounds of PET annually in North America.
"This is an unprecedented opportunity for Wellman to support the Olympics' new environmental focus, and, at the same time, close the loop on plastics recycling," said Dennis Sabourin, Wellman's vice president, recycling affairs.