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Daniel Schrager has started a lot of recycling
businesses. First came Sun Valley Worldwide, Inc., which
has grown in its dozen-plus years to fit its “worldwide”
name. That wasn’t quite enough for Schrager, so
Mountain Valley Recycling came next, about three years
ago. Recently, NextLife Recycling was born.
With each company, Schrager has narrowed
the recycling focus. Sun Valley is a full-service worldwide
recycling company, while Mountain Valley focuses on recycling
plastics and manufacturing usable plastic resins from
the recycled materials.
NextLife, the latest venture, is most
interested in plastic film material, including grocery
bags and similar products. NextLife sets up recycling
programs and buys the film, which goes to Mountain Valley,
where it becomes “brand new resin,” according
Like many other recycling companies,
Schrager’s Sun Valley Worldwide used to sell plastic
film to the composite lumber industry, a seasonal market.
Relying on a seasonal market meant that there were times
when the film was either not profitable or the market
was virtually nonexistent. “We got so frustrated,
we decided to figure it out ourselves,” he said.
“There’s got to be a better
way,” he told himself, and that better way included
a technology that turns the film into new resins which
can then be used to manufacture new plastic products.
The end products are no longer limited to that small,
seasonal market. With Mountain Valley committed to buying
the film and making the resins, that film now has a long-term
guaranteed market, making it a more desired scrap product.
“We are the mill,” Schrager said. “We
are the end user.”
In a process Schrager called “closed-loop
recycling” that plastic film might be used to make
recycling bins, plastic pallets, crates or other products
and delivered back to the company that recycled the film.
The loop doesn’t stop there, though. “We don’t
just recycle plastic film,” Schrager said. “They
can put all of their plastic into the trailer,”
so if those pallets or crates or bins get damaged, they
can be recycled and return as new again and again.
NextLife isn’t quite the same as
Schrager’s other companies, in that it’s a
“recycling alliance” including “some
of the biggest film and bag manufacturers,” according
to Schrager. “Every company that manufactures plastic
film is welcome to join,” he said. By joining the
alliance, Schrager explained that “manufacturers
for free have a complete recycling infrastructure at their
“Our philosophy is…one of
our main goals is to increase the amount of recycling,”
Schrager said. He explained that only about 3 percent
of plastic film is collected and recycled. His goal is
to increase that to 10 percent and beyond.
Schrager said that in some areas where
plastic bags aren’t being recycled, cities are imposing
taxes on the bags as a way to force bag manufacturers
to find ways to recycle. NextLife wants to be that way.
He said that NextLife can also help all sorts of grocers,
retailers, waste haulers and recyclers who have plastic
Schrager said that the best part of his
business is “that we have an opportunity to make
a real difference and a real change in this industry.”
And by finding a method to effectively recycle plastic
film, he’s well on his way towards his goal –
to “increase the recycling.”