What will it take to bring recycling numbers up to the level needed to really create a circular economy? While a lot of companies are talking about using more post-consumer recycled plastics in their packaging, there's a massive shortfall between the amount of plastics collected and the amount needed to hit those goals.
Republic Services, the second-largest trash collecting company in the U.S., thinks it can provide the pipeline between consumers and packaging companies.
"We're actually one of the few companies where we think [circular economy demands are] a tailwind vs. a headwind for our business," Republic CEO Jon Vander Ark told Plastics News reporter Jim Johnson during an interview at the recent Plastics Recycling Conference. "We're excited. The economics are really compelling. We had tons of ideas around forward integrating around sustainability. How do we grow this thing?"
For starters, Republic is investing $50 million for a plastics recycling center in Las Vegas that will not only collect and sort plastics, but also produce food-grade PET flake.