Recycling benefits us all

Published 8:05 am Thursday, November 17, 2011

Keep America Beautiful has designated November 15 as America Recycles Day, the only nationally recognized day dedicated to the promotion, education and motivation of recycling in the United States.

While our recycling is often thought of as an eco-conscious practice, and is certainly has environmental rewards, the general public often doesn’t realize that recycling is actually an economic issue.

KW Plastics, located locally in Troy, is the world’s largest plastics recycler, as well as one of Pike County’s largest employers, with over 300 people employed at KW Plastics and KW Plastics Recycling Division (not including KW Container and affiliate Sanders Companies).

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KW recycles HDPE and PP plastic. Items such as milk jugs, shampoo and detergent bottles, yogurt cups, paint cans, plastic bottle caps and automotive battery casings.

Our end product is a high quality post-consumer resin that is sold to molders for such applications as automotive parts, consumer brand packaging, agricultural pipe and pots, all-plastic paint containers and film wrap.

KW Plastics resin is virtually in every home in America, simply look under your kitchen sink, on your bathroom shelves, in your laundry cabinets, in the garage or under the hood of your car.

KW Plastics is a private company, with millions of capital dollars invested in our facilities right here in Pike County. While we are recognized for having the largest processing and storage capacities for plastic recycling in the world, we can only operate at 70-75 percent capacity due to the lack of scrap material available.

Our demand for recyclables is so high that we have to buy from all over continental North America to bring material in. If we were to depend solely on the state of Alabama, KW could only run our plant two days out of each year.

For each truckload of material we bring in, there is a check issued for that material. We buy material from small communities and metropolitan areas alike all over our country and surely would love to see that money go back into our community and state.

KW’s largest challenge and only hindrance to be able to grow more, to employ more, to invest more and generate more revenue for our community and tax base is the lack of supply. Simply put, we need more plastic to recycle.

Communities are often fooled to think their material doesn’t have value or possibly small areas don’t generate enough to count.

The City of Troy and state of Alabama may be small but we drink milk too. We wash our hair and clothes. We generate valuable scrap material each day in our homes and places of work and yet we choose to throw it into a trash bag rather than a recycling bag.

Literally, we are burying cash into our landfills when we throw away those valuable recyclables. Not to mention, we are paying the landfills by the ton to dispose of these materials that have markets.

In fact, the Georgia Dept of Community Affairs estimate that Georgians pay $100 million to landfill roughly $300 million worth of recyclable materials per year. Unfortunately, the state of Alabama doesn’t have such data but I am sure we would be shocked to find similar findings.

All the while, recycling companies, not just KW Plastics, are starving for material and paying competitive market pricing.

Recycling has wonderful environmental rewards that most of us recognize like energy and natural resource conservation; however, recycling isn’t simply an environmental issue. It is an economic one.

Recycling is good for the earth but maybe more significantly, recycling is good for the economy.

There are real manufacturing jobs that depend heavily on recycling. According to the Southeast Recycling Development Council (, there are 26 manufacturers in Alabama that depend on recycled content to manufacture their goods. These manufacturers represent some of the largest employers for our state: paper, steel and fiber mills.

When recyclers are limited with supply, we are limiting our manufacturers access to recycled content, which can have affect demand, pricing and ultimately consumers’ wallets, not to mention economic development and job growth.

In Alabama alone, the Southeast Recycling Development Council, reports that if our state recycled just 10 percent more each year, the potential economic impact would be over 1,400 new jobs, over $66 million in personal annual income and $3 million in annual state tax revenue. Just 10% more-just one state. Can you imagine the impact of each state boosted its recycling by 10% more?

I would encourage readers to consider at recycling as an economic issue, not just an environmental issue and start thinking about a price tag associated with every plastic bottle, aluminum can or cardboard box we toss in the trash.

The citizens of Troy are fortunate to have a recycling program that is so easy: put recyclables in a blue bag and put it on the curbside for pickup the same day as your garbage.

I am often amazed how each week, my own family of four stacks up more blue bags, filled with recyclables, than garbage.

According to the City of Troy website, we can recycle: Aluminum cans,

Metal / steel cans (clean), Cardboard boxes or tubes, newspapers, paper grocery bags, plastic bottles with #1 or #2 recycling code (soda, water and milk bottles, shampoo and detergent bottles, etc.), shredded computer paper (bag separately) and magazines and mail (bag separately) .

Be assured that each of these items have markets with a high demand for the materials and more material we can put into blue bags means more revenue for our community.

The City of Troy blue recycling bags can be picked up at City Hall, City of Troy Library and Colley Senior Complex.

Pick up your roll of recycling bags today and start thinking about an altogether different type of green that recycling can help. Let’s make a commitment to recycle not only on American Recycles Day, but also every day, knowing you can make a difference.

Thank you,


Stephanie Baker is Director of Market Development, KW Plastics Recycling Division; Chairman, Southeast Recycling Development Council; and a member of the Board of Directors, Alabama Recycling Coalition.





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