KW Plastics provides virtual tour to students

Published 11:00 pm Thursday, September 27, 2012

Those who think that recycling is not worth their time and effort just don’t know enough about recycling.

Although individual recycling efforts may not put a jingle in one’s pockets, the efforts are indirectly beneficial to all.

Stephanie Baker, KW Plastics director of market development, conducted a Virtual Field Trip from Pike County High School Thursday afternoon. Baker’s presentation was delivered through video conferencing to schools in Brantley, Headland, Pleasant Home and Baldwin County to students who are taking Environmental Science through ACCESS. The Troy University ACCESS program provides opportunities for schools in the 27 county districts to take classes and trips through video conferencing.

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KW Plastics is headquartered in Troy and is the world’s largest producer of custom-engineered, recycled polypropylene co-polymer resins or, simply put, plastics.

Baker told the students that KW Plastics used innovative thinking to find a way to reclaim and recycle the plastic used in automotive battery casings.

“The casing had been put in landfills but the EPA got involved and banned the plastic casings from the landfills because they contained acid contaminants,” Baker said. “In 1981, KW Plastics found a way to break down and recycle the casings and give them back to the manufacturer.”

In 1992, KW Plastics diversified to include the recycling of other plastic materials.

Baker said the focus of KW Plastics is to find useful ways to take increasingly large amounts of waste out of the environment and develop new and innovative products.

“One of those products is the plastic paint can that is made from 100 percent recycled plastic,” said Baker, who explained the recycling process, step by step, to the students. “But it all begins with you. Those who recycle are the beginning of the process.”

Baker said that recycling has a tremendous impact on the environment. It preserves natural resources and reduces pollution, the need for landfills and litter.

“Recycling also has a great economic impact,” she said. “Right here in Troy, KW Plastics provides employment for 195 people and has an annual payroll of $6.6 million. KW Plastics pays around $4.5 annually in utility usage and $150,000 in local and state taxes. So, we all benefit indirectly from recycling.”

The troubling fact about recycling is so few households recycle. Baker said that if only 10 percent more of Alabama’s households would recycle, 1,400 more jobs would be created. There would be $66 million more in personal income and $3 million more in annual state tax revenue.

“We are putting $3 million a year in the ground,” she said.

Baker said that KW Plastics has to go into Canada and Mexico to help meet the demands for recyclable plastic.

“The United States does not supply enough plastic to meet the demands,” she said. “If KW had to depend only on Alabama to supply its needs, we would only have enough recyclable plastic for two days.”

She encouraged the students to explore opportunities for recycling in the area.

“We have several metal companies here so, every time you throw away an aluminum can, you’re throwing away money and an opportunity to have an impact on the environment and the economy,” she said. “Recycling is worth the time and the effort.”