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Plastics makers honor innovators in plastics recycling

Bridge Mill Tower by EcoPlay. This eco-friendly playground structure contains 56,400 recycled milk jugs.

The American Chemistry Council (ACC) announced the winners of 2012’s Innovation in Plastics Recycling awards. Three companies: KW Plastics, Safeplay Systems and Sony Electronics Inc., were honored. The winners are being celebrated for developing innovative processes and/or products using post-consumer recycled plastics.

  • KW Plastics was awarded for its pioneering approaches to recycling post-consumer polypropylene packaging. Due to the range of polypropylene products found in household waste, many reclaimers have had difficulty handling the various melt flows, layers and additives. KW Plastics has developed processes, specifications and equipment that overcome these challenges, allowing the processing of yogurt cups, butter tubs, ketchup bottles, juice boxes and even corrugated yard signs made from polypropylene – and all as part of an integrated processing system. The Troy, Alabama-based firm now purchases these items from around the country and reprocesses them. In addition, KW Plastics is also an innovator by forging new ground as the first domestic reprocessor to collect and recycle woven and non-woven flexible polypropylene. KW Plastics currently has the capacity to reprocess 450 million lbs. of high-density polyethylene and 300 million lbs. of polypropylene annually.
  • Safeplay Systems won for EcoPlay, its popular line of playground equipment for schools and parks made from post-consumer recycled high-density polyethylene (HDPE). EcoPlay lumber is made from a minimum 95 percent post-consumer recycled content. Though the Marietta, Georgia-based company creates custom products that can range from smaller structures designed for young children to larger designs of up to three-stories high, on average each playground structure keeps over 35,000 milk jugs out of landfills. Safeplay has its own recycling program and accepts all its products for recycling at the end of their useful lives.
  • Based in San Diego, California, Sony Electronics Inc. won for its development of SoRPlas, a material made from 99 percent recycled polycarbonate that is used in the housings of some of Sony’s popular consumer products, particularly in high-end cameras.

To make SoRPlas, Sony uses 50 percent post-industrial scrap from optical disc manufacturing, such as CDs, DVDs and Blu-Ray discs, and 50 percent post-consumer recycled plastics from end-of-life products, containers and other items.

This process has additional environmental benefits in helping to reduce CO2 emissions during manufacturing and transportation. The Sony Group uses more than 17,000 tons of recycled plastics annually, including SoRPlas, in various products.