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PLASTIC RECYCLING TAKES GIANT STEP

 PETOSKEY, Mich., March 23 /PRNewswire/ -- Petoskey Plastics, a northern Michigan manufacturer of plastic bags, plastic sheeting, and other polyethylene blown film products, has blazed a new trail in environmental manufacturing, becoming the first company in the world to produce trash and leaf bags made from 100-percent recycled post-consumer plastic.
 The company, which has been working on the difficult problem of recycling this type plastic for the past three years, announced the production of 100-percent post-consumer recycled bags in mid-March.
 The new line of bags, labeled "President's Choice," is being produced for Loblaws of Canada for distribution throughout the United States and Canada.
 To underscore the importance of recycling, the bags are not only made entirely of post-consumer plastic gathered from used bags, but the twist ties are made from 100-percent reused milk bottles, and the packaging is 100-percent recycled cardboard boxes, 35 percent of which is also post-consumer.
 "Loblaws' desire for recycled `green products' resulted in their request to us to produce a 100-percent post-consumer recycled bag," explained Paul Keiswetter, president of Petoskey Plastics, adding that his company already manufactures several lines of bags and other blown plastic film products with varying percentages of post-consumer recycled plastic for other private label markets, including Kmart, Spartan Brands, Topco, Whirlpool, Honda and Ford.
 "We are delighted with the outcome of this product," Keiswetter said. "Although `President's Choice' trash bags are in limited supply, this product speaks clearly to the success that can be realized when government, manufacturing and distribution come together. The Three R's -- reduce, reuse and recycle -- are a national goal to which we are committed.
 "Actually this is a global effort, without borders," Keiswetter noted. "This particular project is a joint effort of a U.S. and Canadian firm, which grew out of a cooperative effort between the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and our company," Keiswetter explained.
 In 1990, the Michigan DNR awarded Petoskey Plastics a $1.2 million grant, which the company matched with an initial investment of $1.8 million, to build a recycling center adjacent to the company's existing production facility.
 The state of Michigan's goal was to encourage recycling, especially in polyethylene film products, such as plastic bags, which have been troublesome to recycle due to their light weight, toughness and flexibility. Those problems, as well as questions of how to collect, transport, wash and remanufacture the plastic at a profit, had to be resolved before recycling would be a practical alternative in which businesses could invest.
 Petoskey Plastics opened its recycling center in October 1991.
 "We had 18 months of trial and error," Keiswetter said. "We've worked through a lot of problems," he added. He was standing at the start of his recycling line. Behind him, machines processed dirty plastic -- washing, cutting, and melting it down -- producing the small pellets of resin which are used to produce new bags.
 For the manufacturer, it was essential that bags and other products made of post-consumer recycled plastic be of the same or higher quality than products produced with virgin raw materials.
 "This is the only way recycling will really work," observed Petoskey Plastics Vice President of Sales Dick Frost.
 Frost explained that the company's Statistical Process Control (S.P.C.) lab establishes quality control criteria for all products.
 "It may have been slow going at first, to produce products of post-consumer recycled plastic that met these standards, but we are convinced it's vital.
 "You can't have the bag break on the way from the house to the curb, after all. We know now that we can make a bag of 100-percent post- consumer plastic that the consumer will want to buy again."
 The success of recycling, Keiswetter pointed out, is also dependent on "distribution of recycled products to cash customers. They are the lifeblood of the entire effort.
 "It's been a team effort, with government, manufacturing and distribution sectors enabling consumers to support the environment by purchasing products made with recycled materials."
 -0- 3/23/93
 /CONTACT: Dick Frost, vice president of sales of Petoskey Plastics, 616-347-2602/


CO: Petoskey Plastics; Michigan Department of Natural Resources;
 Loblaws of Canada ST: Michigan IN: ENV SU: PDT


SM -- NYEFNS2 -- 8456 03/23/93 07:02 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Mar 23, 1993
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