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EGLE, MEDC grants back firm's $10M recycling expansion in Flint
February 07, 2023
ACI Plastics will become Michigan’s largest recycler of postconsumer plastic film
Officials with the Michigan Dept. of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) joined with Flint Mayor Sheldon Neeley and Genesee County state legislators and business leaders to unveil Flint-based ACI Plastics’ new $10 million-plus plastics recycling facility.
“We are proud to welcome ACI Plastics’ new facility and congratulate their entire team on this milestone achievement,” Mayor Neeley said during a Monday press conference at the plant, 2000 Bagwell St. in Flint. “The company’s installation of state-of-the-art processing and cleaning technology will make ACI Plastics the largest producer of post-consumer recycled plastic film in Michigan.”
The firm is partnering with Luxembourg-based Ravago – the world’s largest distributor of plastic resins serving more than 55 countries across the globe – to ship its recycled film, reconstituted as pellets, to business customers throughout the United States. The plastic film, such as shrink wrap and bags used in product packaging, comes from companies such as Meijer, Amazon, and Walmart. Flint was chosen for the project over a competing site in Ohio.
The recycled pellets from ACI Plastics will be shipped and turned into new products by Michigan-based companies, including Petoskey Plastics and Grand Rapids-based manufacturer Cascade Cart Solutions, which makes plastic recycling carts and bins.
“We like going to sleep every night knowing that we’re not only doing something to help the environment but also providing a good living for many employees while enjoying a successful business,” said ACI Plastics President Scott Melton.
ACI Plastics employs about 120 workers at its four locales (two in Flint and one each in South Carolina and Nebraska). The company has received funding support for its investment through a $300,000 Renew Michigan EGLE infrastructure grant and a $150,000 Business Development Program performance-based grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.
The Renew Michigan funding is part of EGLE’s strategy to support recycling infrastructure, improve the quality of recyclable materials, and promote market development for Michigan’s circular economy using the Renew Michigan Fund, which the Legislature created in 2019 to bolster the state’s recycling efforts. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the state Legislature are committed to raising Michigan’s recycling rate to 30% by 2025 and 45% by 2030, exceeding the national recycling rate of 32%.
“Michiganders are recycling now more than ever before, and it’s because of the technological advances and tremendous work being done by companies like ACI Plastics,” EGLE Acting Director Dan Eichinger said during the news conference.
“This progress represents a bipartisan effort in a historic partnership with the Michigan Legislature in combination with the nonprofit sector and business community,” Eichinger said. “EGLE and the Whitmer administration are introducing new opportunities to promote recycling, help support our climate change goals, and create new jobs in communities that have been historically underserved.”
At its peak later this year, ACI Plastics innovative recycling system will process 24 million pounds of post-consumer plastic film each year with the ability to increase capacity another 24 million pounds per year if demand warrants.
ACI Plastics announced it will create 25-30 new jobs to operate the plant, with wages from $15-$20 per hour. The company is looking to hire its new employees beginning in May 2023 and is committed to prioritizing applications from City of Flint residents.
“I am extremely impressed by what we’re seeing happen here at ACI Plastics in Flint and across Michigan with regard to increasing investments in recycling,” said state Rep. Cynthia Neeley. “By helping to build out domestic markets for recycled goods, we help to support key Michigan industries like automotive, construction materials, and paper product manufacturing, while also preserving the environment for the next generation.”
“I welcome public investment in businesses like ACI Plastics that divert materials from Michigan landfills, boost local economies, and support the largest push in state history to promote recycling activities,” said state Sen. John Cherry.
Each year, more than 380 million tons of plastics are produced globally. Less than 10% of these plastics are reused or recycled, leading to significant accumulation and waste as products are incinerated, dumped in landfills or lost in the environment. Investments like this to support a circular economy for plastics is a key part of Michigan’s work to reduce climate change and work toward the 45% recycling goal identified in the MI Healthy Climate Plan, the broad-based roadmap to a sustainable, carbon-neutral Michigan economy by 2050.
Many companies have made commitments to drastically increase their use of recycled content in their packaging or products, including Coca-Cola Co., PepsiCo, Keurig Dr. Pepper, Danone, and Unilever. Using recycled content in packaging reduces life-cycle environmental impacts and helps to create markets for the material that Michigan residents recycle at the curb.
Here’s the challenge: There’s not enough plastic recycled for companies to meet mandates or their public commitments. That is why Michigan is investing in the NextCycle Michigan Initiative to attract innovative businesses to the state and form partnerships such as its collaboration with ACI Plastics to connect the recycled content supply chain – from the curb to new products made in Michigan.
The recycling process also helps ensure a steady supply of material for manufacturers to work with. ACI Plastics’ new approach will reduce carbon emissions and pollution by using waste plastic as a new source of raw material and transforming it into a new material that can be recycled repeatedly without loss of quality.
“Flint and Genesee County is a community of makers and doers – where manufacturing muscle, a culture of innovation, and strength of character intersect to create real, rare opportunity,” said Flint & Genesee Economic Alliance Executive Director Tyler Rossmaessler. “ACI Plastics exemplifies our city’s hands-on work ethic and can-do spirit.”
Recycling in Michigan has reached a new all-time high, up 35.4% from pre-2019 levels, according to a 2022 EGLE analysis. This equates to Michigan now capturing over 500,000 more tons of cardboard boxes, milk cartons, plastic bottles, organic material, and other recyclables, equating to more than 110 pounds per person each year.
Since 2019, the state has nearly doubled the number of households with available curbside recycling carts and drop-off sites. Nearly 3 million households — representing three-quarters of the state’s population — now have access to recycling in their communities. EGLE statewide and regional data show Michiganders’ understanding of recycling best habits has increased in every corner of the state. For more information on recycling in Michigan, visit RecyclingRaccoons.org.