A pair of uniquely named plastic recycling companies are receiving funding from an affiliate of the Closed Loop Fund to pursue emerging film plastic recycling projects.
Both Zzyzx Polymers LLC and Drought Diet Products are getting the money through the Closed Loop Foundation, which is working with S.C. Johnson & Son Inc., to finding ways to enhance film recycling. S.C. Johnson is, in particular, focused on recycling solutions for its Ziploc brand of plastic bags.
The foundation is awarding about $300,000 in grant money, split similarly between the two recipients, said Bridget Croke, who handles communications and investor partnerships for the Closed Loop Fund.
Both projects, she said, provide opportunities to develop uses for the recycled film.
“We really felt like in this category that nothing is going to change until we build end markets for this material,” she said.
Croke cited the potential to make a difference from both an end-market and technological perspective factored into the grant decisions.
Zzyzx, of Allentown, Pa., will use its grant money on capital expenditures.
“This grant will help us purchase the equipment needed to scale up our technology for testing in a plastic processing facility, and will act as a stepping stone to large-scale recycling operations,” said Zzyzx CEO Michael Janse in a statement.
The company makes pellets from hard-to-recycle plastics.
Drought Diet Products, of Long Beach, Calif., will use the grant money in its push to use post-consumer film in making irrigation piping products, the foundation reported. The company wants to integrate post-consumer low density polyethylene into its underground Aquifer Pipe brand irrigation product.
Closed Loop and S.C. Johnson looked for projects that will make a big impact on the recycled film market and drew plenty of interest, Croke said.
“It was pretty intense. There was a little under 40 projects that we saw come through the RFP [request for proposals],” he said. “We went through a pretty rigorous process including external experts to review the proposals and really look at market viability.”
It was at the Plastics Recycling 2016 conference, held earlier this year in New Orleans, that the Closed Loop Fund revealed its intention of helping improve film recycling. S.C. Johnson Chief Sustainability Officer Kelly Semrau, at the later Re|focus Recycling Summit & Expo in Orlando, Fla., separately talked about her company's push to find end-of-life recycling solutions for its film products.
S.C. Johnson actually was involved with the grant project when the initiative was first announced, but decided to keep its name out of the news at that time.
“They were quite at the beginning because they didn't want their name to influence the kind of projects that came through,” Croke said.
Semrau had this to say in a statement when the latest news came out Sept. 20: “These two companies help build value in recycled Ziploc bags and other film plastics. We need to build strong end markets in order to see innovation in how this material is collected and recycled.”
The foundation is affiliated with the Closed Loop Fund, which calls itself a social impact investment fund that plans to provide $100 million in loans to municipalities and companies to boost recycling. The foundation was created to help early stage projects that are not considered by the larger fund.