Take Part in S.C.’s Circular Economy

Take Part in S.C.’s Circular Economy

Take Part in S.C.’s Circular Economy

The recycling industry in South Carolina is alive and well, thanks largely to the S.C. Department of Commerce and Chantal Fryer, who runs the recycling industry program there. Chantal promotes “Your Bottles Mean Jobs,” since there are about 100 businesses in South Carolina that comprise the plastics recycling industry in the Palmetto State.

Recycling is driven by the market for bottles and cans. South Carolina is fortunate to be the home to Sonoco, Palmetto Synthetics, Sun Fibers, Crescent Recycling and other end users of recycled bottles.  Two recent startup announcements for Green Tech Solution in Cherokee County and Ecomelida in Orangeburg County show that the S.C. Department of Commerce is actively recruiting these key businesses. Without a market for recycled items, there is no circle to a circular economy, but only a one way, dead-end trip to a landfill.

Most people don’t realize, but single-stream recycling caused huge problems all over the U.S. The temptation to carelessly recycle the wrong stuff caused a lot of end users to stop taking the material. If bottles contain food or liquid residue, the contamination of other items in the single stream receptacle causes all tainted items to be hauled off to the landfill.

Recycled paper has a strong market in our area, but the amount of clean paper that could be recovered dropped way down. Plastic wrap and plastic bags cause the sorting lines at a Materials Recycling Facility (MRF) to bind up and shut down. Workers have to stop the line periodically and climb into the conveyors to cut out bags that wrap around rotating shafts and rolls.

China was a huge importer of recycled plastics in all forms, but recently stopped taking materials from the U.S. This caused a massive surplus of bottles with no home, driving the price down for recycled bottles in our country. Waste companies would not bid to run recycling programs because they couldn’t cover their costs.

What can you do? Use your local recycling centers and follow the rules! In Berkeley County, the convenience centers take cardboard, mixed paper, metal cans, textiles, car batteries, used motor oil and filters, electronic scrap, tires, carpet padding, antifreeze, appliances, and scrap metal. You can also pay to have residential pick up of bottles, cans and paper. 

Santee Cooper is also into recycling in many ways. Keep an eye out for our upcoming PowerSource magazine to learn more.

Author Elizabeth Kress

Elizabeth Kress

Elizabeth “Liz” Kress is a senior engineer with Santee Cooper, working in the Renewable Energy department. She acts as a developer of biomass and solar projects. Liz has been instrumental in increasing Santee Cooper’s renewable generation, and has also been involved in the feasibility work on offshore wind for South Carolina.

She graduated from Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa., with a Bachelor of Science degree in metallurgy and materials engineering, and has a master’s degree in business from the University of South Carolina.