Wal-Mart Rolls out New 'Sandwich Bale' for Plastics Recycling

Wal-Mart Rolls out New 'Sandwich Bale' for Plastics Recycling

Wal-Mart, in partnership with Rocky Mountain Recycling, is stepping up a pilot program that promises to keep tons of plastic out of landfills.

In September of 2004, the company launched the Plastic Sandwich Bale in 326 Wal-Mart stores and SAM'S CLUBS. The Plastic Sandwich Bale works like this:
  1. Employees place 10 to 20 inches of cardboard at the bottom of large trash compactors that already exist at store locations.
  2. Shrink wrap, plastic bags, apparel bags and other loose plastic is loaded in, and another section of cardboard is placed on top.
  3. The compactor then presses the bale into a "sandwich" with 9 inches to 18 inches of recyclable plastic in the middle.
  4. These bales are then loaded onto a truck to be recycled into other products that range from very dense plastic lumber to very thin shopping bags.
"In just 11 months, in just 10% of our stores, we've recycled enough plastic to fill a football stadium 38 feet deep," says Dick Pastor, director of environmental management for Wal-Mart. "We are so happy with the results that we're adding another 267 stores to the program this fall."

To date, the Plastic Sandwich Bale has sent 1,100 tons of plastic to recycling centers instead of landfills. Now, Wal-Mart has announced plans to roll out the program in 593 stores in 15 states: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Wyoming, and in some areas of Connecticut, and New York.

Rocky Mountain Recycling sales manager Jeff Ashby says the Plastic Sandwich Bale solves a long-standing barrier to plastic recycling by compressing loose plastic into a bale sandwiched between two layers of cardboard. "The compressed plastic is easier and more efficient to transport to recycle centers," he adds.
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