Waste Prevention Round Table
Wrap Recycling Program
A Summary/ Update - November 1, 2000
In the early to
mid-1990's, Polypropylene Blue Wrap was collected from several area hospitals,
along with a number of other plastic items. Due to market conditions and
issues with the processing facility, the pilot program was discontinued
in WA, and today only continues in the Portland region.
Through a Medical
Plastics seminar sponsored by the Medical Industry Waste Prevention Roundtable,
several WA hospitals expressed interest in revitalizing the recycling
program for this material. Significantly, Kimberly-Clark, the major supplier
of the material, offered to continue making available a 3¢/lb. subsidy
to hospitals to help cover transportation and other costs of recycling.
(The money is paid based upon pounds of product sold into an institution,
not pounds of material recovered.)
Through a series
of meetings and conversations, several key elements of a revitalized program
are in place. For example, a number of hospitals are interested in collecting
the material, and have committed to initiating a collection program once
a transportation and processing infrastructure are in place.
A few haulers
have expressed a willingness to work with their existing hospital accounts
(as well as others) to establish a creative collection system for separated
blue wrap. This could include for example putting clear bags of collected
bluewrap in with a mixed paper stream. The mixed load would then be transported,
as usual, to a recycling center for consolidation.
A healthy end
market has been identified that is willing to accept sorted blue wrap.
This market will use the material to combine with other plastic film and
urban wood waste to create a building panel for use in new construction.
If the material has been sorted and baled, the market can make available
a payment of up to 4¢/lb.
At this point,
the only missing link in the collection and processing chain is a means
to sort the material. The end market requires a simple sort to visually
confirm that the load only contains unstained bluewrap. While the sort
on the face of it is quite simple, and is being done for the Legacy collection
program, finding space, staff, and budget to handle this link in the chain
is proving elusive. (Legacy has a unique arrangement with an organization
employing a disabled workforce. They use Legacy workspace, and sort many
We have been in
touch with third-party, non-profit sorters. While interested, they will
need to be compensated for their time (beyond the value of the material)
and no hospitals have expressed the ability to pay labor costs for sorting.
(Even avoided disposal costs due to blue wrap diversion at hospitals does
not represent a significant cash flow, even if it could be contributed
by the hospital to a third-party sorter.)
At this time we
are looking into other end markets that might allow a less stringent sorting
protocol. We welcome any solutions you may have to for putting the final
link in an otherwise functional chain.