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Grant from CalRecycle helps Butte County recycling industry

by ecarranza July 02, 2019

OROVILLE, Calif. — More than $11 million in grant money was given to recycling companies across California as part of CalRecycle's Recycled Fiber, Plastic, and Glass Grant program.

Roxanne Spiekerman, executive vice president at Roplast Industries, spoke about how the company is using their grant for nearly $2.5 million to improve their recycling process, and support businesses throughout Butte County.

Roplast manufactures plastic-based films and bags, partially with new equipment bought with the funding. The money came at just the right time, as the recycling industry is going through a big transition, according to Spiekerman.

"We are having a massive recycling crisis right now. We can no longer ship our contaminated garbage, whether it be paper, plastic or anything overseas," Spiekerman said.

She was referring to China's new waste-acceptance policy.

It used to be that nearly every country in the world would ship their contaminated waste to China for them to use. But now, China is not accepting anything with more than a 0.5 percent contamination rate. That puts a lot of strain on businesses like grocery stores and recycling plants, that work heavily with recycled materials.

"It's not just gonna be grocers anymore. It's gonna affect almost all of our customers and all businesses in the state," Spiekerman said.

With the grant money from CalRecycle, Roplast Industries invested in tools to help ease the problem. One such tool is their de-inking machine, that removes certain chemicals in plastics to make recycling them easier.

"It helps us get better flow through the machinery. It helps us get better output, and allows us to have a wider range of material that we can put in to our recycling plant," Spiekerman said.

One of Roplast's customers is Safeway; that uses gray plastic bags in their checkout line. Those bags are made by Roplast Industries with elements of recycled materials. Safeway is just one of several businesses in Butte County that work with Roplast.

Other companies like Feather Falls Brewing and the Chico Co-Op also use their products.



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