September 11, 2018
Did you know that an act as simple as recycling a plastic bottle can help provide someone with a job? And can help boost the state economy?
The Charleston Post & Courier has published a story about how the recycling industry impacts South Carolina's economy by adding jobs and revenue -- and how the recycling industry is impacted by the actions of the state's citizens.
Several recycling companies and local sustainability and economic experts spoke to the paper about how recycling works and the impact it has on the state's economy. Sonoco Recycling President and GM Mike Pope talked about how plastic recycling works in the MRF (material recovery facility), and some of the challenges workers face in a fast-paced sorting environment.
At Sonoco’s Columbia recycling facility, which sorts what’s collected by Midlands governments, a light scanner automatically recognizes and separates PET plastics for bundling. The company pays for the bottles to be cleaned and processed, then buys back the resin to make plastic trays for berries and other produce — which can be recycled again, said Mike Pope, president of Sonoco Recycling.
Employees at the facility manually sort other plastics. No. 2 plastics — which are also highly marketable and include milk jugs and laundry detergent bottles — are easy to spot and separate. Higher numbers are more of a challenge, Pope said.
Some of those plastics are salable. But unless employees recognize the packaging — such as butter and yogurt tubs, which are No. 5s — “they don’t have time to lift it up, hold it up to the light and look at the number,” he said.