Contamination is a mistake

Source-separated material recovery at moderate material generators is a recycling frontier filled with promise of economic and environmental benefits. Currently, single-stream recycling is often the only available system to the corporate community. The Ei Team is developing a city-wide material recovery template with Atlanta serving as the pilot city.

At the template foundation is on-site source separation with the generator using small compactors to bale the material for collection. The game plan is to collect the small bales for delivery to a recycling center where the material is aggregated into standard sized bales and stored until sold by the tractor trailer load.

Valuable industrial plastic film is a perfect first-step in the template creation as it is a contaminant in single-stream recycling. Large film generators bale the valuable material for sale in the commodities market with prices that rival corrugated cardboard.

FreshPoint (FP), the nation's largest produce distributor, stepped forward as the lead Pilot Pioneer. A first action step was installing a mini baler at the FP Atlanta distribution center to bale the film generated in their operations. The Ei Plastic Film Recovery Pilot @ FreshPoint video gives an overview of the pilot along with new practices created for contaminant-free film collection. Ei's prominent role in commercial plastic film recycling is chronicled on the Ei Plastic Film Recycling website page.

With the Georgia World Congress Center (GWCC) joining the Pilot Pioneer Team, the pilot template expands beyond plastic film to encompass common recyclable materials: aluminum, mixed paper and PET. Goals are in-place to create an on-site mini MRF – materials recovery facility – at the GA Dome | GWCC. The Atlanta Penitentiary agreed to join the team as the recycling center during the template development.

For a pilot overview, visit the following Zero Waste in ACTION Blog articles:

The Ei FB album, Source-Separated Materials Recycling: building a city-wide network, chronicles the template creation process.

Due to unforeseen circumstances ranging from promotions to long-term illness to business model shifts to internal corporate politics, the S-SMRT was put on hold in early 2015. The foundation is built and ready for a new life at the perfect time!