Plastic renewal company wraps up Angola marina pilot program, plans to expand

Local News

ANGOLA, Ind. (WANE) — Waste solutions company Brightmark is looking to partner with Northeast Indiana marinas after successful pilot program to recycle boat wrap.

Brightmark has a renewal facility in Ashley, Indiana that takes plastics typically thrown away and turns them into wax and fuel. While they will take water bottles and milk jugs, they focus on plastics labeled three through seven, which are more likely to be thrown away than thrown in a recycling bin.

“We are really looking for those plastics that are ending up in our landfills and our oceans,” said Tina Walters, Corporate Human Resources Director for Brightmark’s Plastics Division. “The three through sevens are your Walmart bags, your toothbrushes, your shrink wrap.garbage bags, the Solo cups.”

The Ashley facility will take in around 100,000 tons of that plastic a year and turn it into around six million galls on wax and 18 million gallons of low-sulfur diesel fuel. Once fully operational, Brightmark said it will be the largest scale of a commercialized facility to do that in the world. The company has been collecting plastic from residential recycling services and the Northeast Indiana Solid Waste Management District, but more recently they have recently teamed up with Angola’s Dry Dock Marina for a pilot program to collect boat wrap.

“It’s kind of like a big garbage bag, is what it is, and it’s a very good commodity for us,” said Walters.

It is also an easy commodity to come by in the area because of the high-amount seasonal boating, fishing, and watersports on the surrounding lakes. The boat wrap, like the other three through seven plastics, work well because they are made from polyethylene, a type of plastic that makes for a better petroleum base to refine the plastic into the diesel.

They wanted to tackle boat wrap because it is a big lake area and most boats are wrapped every winter. Walters said whether it is thrown away or disposed of another way, it is bad for the environment.

“Every spring when they’re ready to put the boats back into the water, this comes off and this plastic is what’s ending up in our landfills and there’s even times, unfortunately, that they’re evening burning it so it’s messing with the environment as well,” said Walters.

Dry Dock send Brightmark bales of plastic weighing anywhere from 800 to 2,500 pounds. From there, they sort the bales and break down the plastic into small pellets that Walters said resembles rabbit food. It is then refined into fuel or wax.

With the completion of the pilot program, Brightmark plans to expand to other marinas around Steuben County, as well as Dekalb, Noble, and LaGrange Counties. They are still in the testing stages in the testing stages but are hopeful the Ashley facility will be fully operational later this year. In the meantime, the company is looking to fill around 40 positions at the Ashley facility. There is no special education or certification required because they are willing to train people.

“Everybody needs an opportunity, kind of like the plastic, needs a second life so that’s what we’re here to do,” said Walters. Anybody out there that needs a second chance, a new career, a new job, come join us.”

You can apply to work at Brightmark over on their website under the “Careers” section.

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