Recognizing Recycling Heroes Polychem and Evergreen on Global Recycling Day

Mar 18

The ideal today is to support companies with a social conscious. Companies that care. That make a difference. That give back. It’s a worthy ideal, but let’s be practical. Sometimes we find that we have to work for a paycheck. To pay the mortgage. Pay our kid’s tuition. Help support elderly parents.

That’s life. That’s reality.

And then, we get lucky. We score a client or job with a company whose core values reflect our own. And for this oh-so-practical Baby Boomer, that happened to me with a company called Polychem and their subsidiary Evergreen Plastics. Years ago, I worked for a global packaging company as their contract PR person and learned the packaging industry inside out. Six months ago, a former colleague remembered me and referred me to Polychem where another alum from the same global packaging company was now CEO. I was fortunate to land Polychem as a client but got something much more. A company that is truly making a difference in this tumultuous world of ours in the realm of recycling, reuse and the circular economy. Did I mention they support ESG, too?

So today, on Global Recycling Day, I am giving Polychem and their recycling division, Evergeen Plastics, a shout out as recycling heroes. They are literally out to change the world and in the process, inspired me, a pragmatic Baby Boomer, to be more conscientious about recycling.

Here’s why it matters.

According to the EPA, 146.1 million tons of municipal solid waste was sent to landfills in 2018. The top three culprits were plastics (18.5%), paper/paperboard (12%) and metals (9.5%) – all recyclable materials. We have to do better. We have to bring those numbers down.

Evergreen Plastics was founded in 1998 in Clyde, Ohio, as a plastics recycling company to supply recycled polyester (rPET) to parent company Polychem, among the largest producers of plastic strapping in North America. Did you know the strap on that new big screen TV you bought or the strap securing the lumber for your new deck  is made from old water bottles? If the strap’s from Polychem it is.

Over the last two decades, Polychem has grown its Evergreen recycling business exponentially in three key areas.

First, it partners with municipalities and other organizations to collect recyclable materials to halt the flow to landfills. In addition to post-consumer PET bottles, Evergreen takes back plastics in all sorts of formats (preforms, used strap, flake), but also collects aluminum cans, paper and paperboard, and film. Last year alone, Evergreen reclaimed over one billion PET bottles used to package water, soda and juice. That’s over a billion bottles not in landfills, not in our oceans and rivers, and not sitting on a roadside somewhere. That matters.

Second, Evergreen recycles the recovered PET bottles into recycled plastic, rPET, that is in high demand among consumer products companies that want recycled content in their packaging to satisfy consumers and meet ESG and circular economy goals. In 2020, Evergreen produced and quickly sold 40 million pounds of rPET. And, they’re in the process of doubling their capacity with an expansion of their ePET manufacturing operation. Make sure to throw your used beverage bottles into your recycling bin so Evergreen can keep it in the loop.

Third, Evergreen finds users of all of the other recyclable material they collect: the aluminum cans, paper and paperboard, film – even the caps from beverage bottles. They have the unenviable task of sorting through all of the trash they take in and turning it into neat bundles of material others can more easily reuse. And yes, even that bottle cap you tossed in your recycling bin with the bottle has a new life in a new product thanks to Evergreen. Pretty cool, right?

Now, in addition to increasing its recycling capacity at Evergreen, Polychem is embarking on an expanded recycling/sustainability path, offering major companies the opportunity to join them in making landfills obsolete. Polychem now offers comprehensive sustainability solutions that help companies capture recyclables, encourage reusables and overall adopt the principles of sustainability across their operations in order to make a meaningful, reportable impact (ESG anyone?) on the environment. What’s exciting is a growing number of major brands are taking Polychem up on it.

My role in all of this? Well, I get to tell the Polychem and Evergreen story about making a promise and making a difference in the world. Now. Today. At a time when we all crave good news and companies we believe it.

And what better way to celebrate Global Recycling Day than to recognize a recycling hero.

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