September 2005

Wal-Mart takes a part in the plastics recycling market

Bentonville, AR— Wal-Mart, in partnership with Rocky Mountain Recycling, is stepping up a pilot program that promises to keep tons of plastic out of landfills and revolutionize plastic recycling. The Plastic Sandwich Bale(TM) is a new process that is going to revolutionize the way retailers think about recycling and waste management.

"In just 11 months, in just 10 percent of our stores, we've recycled enough plastic to fill a football stadium 38 feet deep," says Dick Pastor, director of environmental management for Wal-Mart. "This program could quite possibly become one of Wal-Mart's biggest recycling efforts to date. We are so happy with the results that we're adding another 267 stores to the program this fall."

The Plastic Sandwich Bale works like this:

  • Wal-Mart and SAM'S CLUB associates place 10 to 20 inches of cardboard at the bottom of large trash compactors that already exist at store locations.
  • Shrink wrap, plastic bags, apparel bags and other loose plastic is loaded in, and another section of cardboard is placed on top.
  • The compactor then presses the bale into a "sandwich" with 9 inches to 18 inches of recyclable plastic in the middle.
  • These bales are then loaded onto a truck to be recycled into other products that range from very dense plastic lumber to very thin shopping bags.

Wal-Mart facilities in the U.S. have already been recycling plastic for a number of years. So far, in 2005, the company has recycled over 5,734 tons of plastic. "We wanted to explore new ways to improve our recycling efforts, and saw an opportunity to lead the charge to increase plastic bag and film recycling," says Pastor. In September of 2004, the company launched the Plastic Sandwich Bale as a pilot program in 326 Wal-Mart stores and SAM'S CLUBS.

To date, the Plastic Sandwich Bale has sent 1,100 tons of plastic to recycling centers instead of landfills. Now, Wal-Mart is excited to roll out the program in 593 stores in 15 states: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Wyoming, and in some areas of Connecticut, and New York.

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