- Petoskey, MI-based plastic bag producer Petoskey Plastics has donated about 70,000 recycling bags to assist Schupan Recycling, the largest PET recycler in Michigan, with bottle recycling in Flint. The efforts come amid a water crisis that is causing Flint residents to turn to bottled water for drinking, cooking, and bathing.
- Schupan has set up five drop-off locations with recycling bags in Flint where residents can take their empty plastic bottles. Once the bags are filled, transported to the Schupan facility, and emptied, they can be returned to Petoskey Plastics and recycled into new bags.
- Other companies such as Young Environmental Cleanup Inc. and Metro Sanitation have also set up similar recycling sites to assist with the magnitude of plastic bottles being disposed of in Flint. Republic Services is also handling curbside recycling.
As millions and millions of bottled water donations are sent to Flint, the city is trying to figure out how to handle the accumulating amount of plastic waste that is building up — amid other problems that are plaguing the area.
"It’s an enormous challenge. But one we’re going to keep fighting for," said Schupan & Sons Recycling Division President Thomas Emmerich to Plastics News. He explained that, as the state's largest bottle recycling company, Schupan feels a level of responsibility to assist Flint and ensure that disposal and recycling is being taken care of properly.
Peoskey Plastics sales manager Matt Keiswetter echoed the sentiment. "A community’s in trouble, and we’re a big recycler. We like to support the cause," he said to Plastics News.
Republic Services has seen a surplus in residents who have signed up for curbside recycling since the crisis began. According to Republic's Municipal Services Manager Gary Hicks, the 15% of the city's 40,000 residents who were already recycling are being continuously joined by hundreds of new sign-ons.
Arnold Brown, Flint's operations supervisor, told the Detroit Free Press that this "is a new culture."