Plastic Container Recycling Facility Running at Capacity

March 5, 2010 - 09:22

East Jordan Plastics, a thermoformer of horticultural containers, recently announced that its new recycling facility for plastic horticultural containers is now in operation 24 hours a day. The 130,000-square-foot facility in South Haven, Mich., is equipped to recycle more than 10 million pounds of used horticultural containers each year. Its location is central to EJP's major markets and convenient to both its production facilities in Beaverton and East Jordan, Mich., which makes it advantageous for both inbound and outbound shipments.

East Jordan Plastics established a recycling system to feed the new facility by “closing the recycling loop” on horticultural containers. Collecting used containers from retail consumers and greenhouse/nursery operations was the missing link. So EJP introduced a pilot program with Masterpiece Flower Company, Elzinga & Hoeksema Greenhouses, Grand Flower Growers and major garden centers in the Midwest. Each garden center placed shipping carts in their stores for customers to bring back their used pots and flats, and the shipping carts returned to growers with recyclable containers. Growers kept the containers they could reuse, and the rest were sent to East Jordan’s South Haven facility to be recycled.

EJP and Masterpiece Flower Company met with Home Depot and Meijer and outlined East Jordan's recycling plan. It was well received, and by the end of the year, there were plastic recycling carts at all 265 of the stores in their area, and they had collected more than 300,000 pounds of horticultural containers. "Even at this time of year, we continue to receive plastic returning from stores," said Tim Stiles of Masterpiece. "Consumers are beginning to realize they can return plastic pots and flats and are embracing the program.”

The program has moved mountains of plastic from some of the nation's largest greenhouses, saving them the associated waste-removal costs. Growers also save by reusing new containers from retail stores. East Jordan’s goal is to recapture as many used horticultural containers as possible from the marketplace, including those from other manufacturers, and to make new containers from up to 100 percent recycled content.

“The best way to achieve sustainability is to recycle and reuse what we create," said Nathan Diller, recycling manager at EJP. "With the gardening public’s cooperation, [the South Haven facility] can be a template for future recycling facilities around the country.”

For more information on taking part in the recycling process or to view East Jordan’s complete product line, visit www.eastjordanplastics.com.

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