But Republic sees a business opportunity to move beyond the bale to open the company's first-ever facility to further process PET into food-grade PET flake. The facility will shred, wash and sort resin by color. The initial Las Vegas site will also handle high density polyethylene and polypropylene, and output is expected to exceed 100 million pounds per year.
"This is a critical step forward in solving the plastics circularity challenge. As a leader in the environmental services industry and one of the nation's largest recyclers, Republic is uniquely positioned to support the circular economy," CEO John Vander Ark said in a March 1 statement.
"Packaged goods manufacturers have set ambitious targets to use more post-consumer content in their products, but the current supply of recycled plastics falls short. The Republic Services Polymer Center will help meet the increasing demand for a reliable, high-quality supply of recycled plastics, assisting brands in achieving their sustainability goals," he said.
"Republic anticipates opening two or three more centers to provide national coverage and further drive circularity," he said.
The company is putting its first plastics flake location in what is a strong and stable market for the company thanks to a long-term exclusive contract to handle waste and recyclables for Las Vegas. The company is able to create economies of scale through integration in the market that is also served by Republic's Apex Regional Landfill, the largest in the nation.
Plastic will still be sorted and baled by Republic at its MRF in Las Vegas, but instead of moving to third-party reprocessors the material will be trucked to the polymer center.
Republic pointed to both brand owners and governments in deciding to open its own reprocessing location. Brands continue to make pledges to use more recycled plastics in their packaging while California and Washington have recycled-content requirements in single-use plastic packaging, the company said.
"Despite this growing demand, there is not enough high-quality recycled plastic for manufacturers to use in consumer packaging. The Polymer Center will help bridge the gap between curbside collections and manufacturers' needs," Republic said.