ISRI member Firstar and the Alliance to End Plastic Waste have announced a memorandum of understanding to develop an integrated recycling complex alongside Firstar’s existing materials recovery facility in Omaha, Neb.

The three-year collaboration aims to maximize the value of recycled plastic by developing a sustainable, cost-effective model for the recovery, resell and remanufacture of different streams. The plan involves integration of sorting, processing, and manufacturing facilities to reduce operational costs; converting reclaimed plastic into feedstock applications including plastic lumber; and manufacturing plastic products using advanced recycling technologies.

“The typical waste-management system in the U.S. faces many barriers to recycling and reselling hard-to-recycle plastics because of the lack of end-markets, and the complex steps and partners involved in collecting, sorting, processing and remanufacturing these plastics,” Firstar CEO Dale Gubbels states. “With this project, we have the opportunity to bring all of those elements together—literally under one roof—in order to find sustainable solutions and provide value to all plastics, even those previously destined for the landfill or the environment.”

Firstar received $1.35 million from the Alliance to fund the expansion, Gubbels says, adding Firstar will receive a substantially larger second round of funding once it has identified additional consumers that can locate nearby and consume the recycled pellets Firstar produces.

Firstar markets close to 100,000 tons per year of a variety of recyclable materials across the Midwest. It has worked with allies including the University of Nebraska to keep materials out of landfills.

“Recycling is among a number of important areas that must be invested in for a more sustainable future,” said Steve Sikra, the alliance’s vice president and head of Americas. “Companies like Firstar are pioneers in creating value for hard-to-recycle plastic at the municipal and regional level.”

Photo courtesy of Firstar Fiber. Caption: Firstar Fiber CEO Dale Gubbels and Steve Sikra of the Alliance to End Plastic Waste are joined by Firstar employees at the ribbon cutting for a new plastics processing facility adjacent to Firstar’s MRF in Omaha, Neb.