The Republic Services Polymer Center, located in Las Vegas, Nevada, US, is a first-of-its-kind recycled plastics manufacturing facility in North America.
The facility is designed to produce more than 100 million pounds (mlb) a year of high-quality recycled plastics for consumer packaging, allowing plastic bottles and jugs to be recycled multiple times.
It is the first polymer centre to be opened by Republic Services, a solid waste collection and recycling company based in the US. The company unveiled the development plan for the polymer centre in March 2022 and announced the opening of the facility in December 2023.
As part of its sustainability commitment, Republic Services is developing a network of such polymer centres in the country to meet the increasing demand for recycled plastics from consumer brands and packaging manufacturers and foster true circularity by extending the lifecycle of plastic packaging.
Republic Services Las Vegas Polymer Center details
The polymer centre is intended to operate as an integrated plastics recycling facility, encompassing the entire recycling workflow, from kerbside collection of recyclable plastics from residential and commercial sources to the final production of recycled materials suitable for repackaging.
The facility receives recyclable plastics from Republic’s local recycling facilities in the region. It employs a multi-step procedure, including shredding, hot washing, and colour sorting to recycle a variety of rigid plastics into high-quality material for applications in consumer packaging.
It specialises in optimising the recycling process for materials such as polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and olefins that are commonly found in beverage bottles, milk jugs, detergent containers, and yoghurt cups.
Equipped with 17 advanced optical sorters, the polymer centre can separate PET and olefins by their type and colour and transform them into recycled PET (rPET) flakes and colour-sorted high-density polyethylene (HDPE) and polypropylene for reuse in new and high-quality sustainable packaging.
With an annual production capacity of more than 100mlb of recycled plastics, the facility can prolong the lifespan of collected plastic packaging by enabling the transformation of plastic bottles into new bottles, with the potential for each bottle to be recycled up to seven times.
Customers of the Las Vegas Polymer Center
Coca-Cola has been confirmed as one of the first customers of the polymer centre. It will procure rPET from the Las Vegas plastic recycling facility starting in early 2024.
As part of its sustainability goals, the beverage giant has committed to using at least 50% recycled plastic in its packaging by 2030.
The demand for rPET in the US is expected to reach five billion pounds by 2030, with more states mandating businesses and brands to integrate recycled plastic into consumer packaging.
Republic Services Polymer Center network and Blue Polymers partnership
In 2022, Republic Services processed five million tonnes of recyclables, including more than 300mlb (1,360t) of plastics.
In line with its commitment to increase the recovery and circularity of key materials by 40% by 2030, the company is developing a nationwide network of polymer centres to meet the growing demand for sustainable packaging solutions. Each centre will be paired with a Blue Polymers production facility to produce premium, tailor-made recycled resins suitable for consumer packaging and other uses.
Republic Services partnered with Ravago, a leading polymer recycling and distribution company, to create the Blue Polymers joint venture (JV) in July 2023.
Republic Services and the JV broke ground on a new plastics recycling complex in Indianapolis in November 2023. Expected to open in late 2024, the recycling complex will house Republic’s second polymer centre, along with a Blue Polymers production facility to further process the recycled plastic materials from the polymer centre.
The plan includes the establishment of three additional Blue Polymers facilities by 2027. Combined, the four facilities can produce 300mlb of high-quality recycled plastics a year.