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American National Can Announces New Recycling Efforts

September 26, 1990

CHICAGO (AP) _ American National Can Co. has forged an agreement with Du Pont Co. to recycle rigid plastic bottles that recyclers often reject.

The pact should go a long way toward resolving one of the recycling industry’s major problems: finding someone to use the reconstituted product by guaranteeing a continuing supply.

One of the big remaining obsticles to increasing the re-use of plastics above the current rate of 1 percent to 2 percent is to improve the sorting process to segregate the various kinds of plastics, said Clifford Klotz, American National Can’s vice president and general manager for recycling.

Now, plastic is hand-sorted at a Chicago area plant operated by the Plastic Recycling Alliance, a joint venture between Du Pont and Waste Management Inc.

Researchers are trying to find a way to speed up this process, Klotz said Tuesday.

″The economics (of plastic recycling) is not as good today as it will be a year from now,″ he said.

In addition to the plastics agreement, American National Can also announced a pact with Waste Management of North America Inc., which will supply all types of presorted metal and glass containers.

American National Can will melt them down to form new containers or sell the material to other manufacturers.

Under both agreements, trash will go through a preliminary presorting at the curbside when Waste Management picks it up.

The metal and glass recycling alliance will begin next year when when a final sorting and processing facility is completed in the Chicago area.

At first, Waste Management will provide trash from 140,000 homes.

The company serves 2 million households in more than 250 communities nationwide, although recycling in many of these towns is voluntary.

Nonetheless, American National Can and Waste Management foresee eventually extending the program beyond the Chicago area.

″These recycling efforts will be extended throughout the United States and eventually throughout the world,″ said Jean-Pierre Ergas, chief executive officer of American National Can.

Klotz said that, except for plastic, much of the recycling pays for itself through the value of the trash.

Aluminum cans have been money-makers for years, he said.

Steel-can recycling should pay for itself, Klotz said, and so should glass if it’s handled efficiently.

He said it’s too early to project the quantity of recyclable materials the new pacts can be expected to generate.

David Goeller, a spokesman for Environmental Action, said his group ″is always in favor of re-use.″

″We applaud more recycling, but we also would like to see less use of some of these items to start with, particularly on the plastic end,″ he said.

Goeller said it’s difficult to make a specific assessment of the American National Can projects without knowing more about them.

Environmental Action, headquartered in Washington, is a national research and lobbying group.

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