Recently, I along with the Hilex Poly team, had the honor of hosting guests from the City of Lexington Division of Waste Management at our recycling and plastic bag manufacturing facility in North Vernon, Indiana– the world’s largest closed loop plastic bag recycling center, where we recycle nearly 35 million pounds of plastic bags, film and wrap each year.
While touring our facility, our guests were able to witness our state-of-the -art recycling technology in action, learn about the different types of plastic that can be recycled, and see firsthand the responsible way Hilex disposes of waste that cannot be recycled. The experience proved to be enlightening. Richard Boone, Efficiency Analyst, Lexington Division of Waste Management, put it best when he said, “I will now think differently when I see a plastic bag.”
Many of our past guests have not only been impressed with the process we use to recycle plastic bags, but also praise us for the spirit that our employees show, and the pride they have in being a part of the growth of American innovation in recycling. As I wrote in my post back in April, Hilex employees are some of the hardest working individuals, dedicated to their jobs and enthusiastic about what they do, and I am proud to say that our employees continue to impress.
Barry Prater, Commodity Material Recovery Facility Manager, Lexington Division of Waste Management, got it right when he said “you’ve got to let people know that recycling creates jobs.” In fact, our North Vernon facility employs nearly 1,200 people and according to The Society of the Plastics Industry the plastic bag manufacturing and recycling industry employs more than 30,000 people in the United States.
During our tour, it became clear that our friends in Lexington have goals similar to our own including increasing the amount of “waste” that is appropriately entered into the recycling stream and thereby diverted from landfills. In past years, plastic bags and film have accounted for about .2 percent of landfill space in Lexington. While this may be a relatively minor percentage overall landfill waste, such recyclable materials should never end up in landfills. Additionally, due to consumer confusion, many materials that cannot be recycled together can, and often do, end up in the wrong material recovery facility where they can significantly damage recycling equipment. With this in mind, it wasn’t difficult to agree on our top priority moving forward—educating consumers about recycling—and Hilex is ready to work with Lexington’s Division of Waste Management to do so. We also committed to playing a part in Lexington’s Zero Waste initiative and are already in discussions about a new waste research project for 2014!
We are so glad that our guests enjoyed their visit as much as we enjoyed hosting them and all of us at Hilex look forward to working with our new partners in Lexington for a long as we work together to promote recycling and reduce landfill waste.