Laundries Turn to Program that Recycles Plastic Soiled-Linen Bags

Bruce Beggs |

ORLANDO, Fla. — In healthcare laundries, the disposable bags used to collect and transport soiled linen make up as much as 95% of their trash, by some estimates.
But there are alternatives to paying the trash bills that result.
Streamline Solutions is a decade-old company that offers a plastics recycling program to companies buying its disposable products.
“We work primarily in the laundry industry, healthcare and commercial-type laundries,” says Ross Sanders, vice president of sales and one of the company’s owners.
Plastic bags, cart covers, liners and laundry wrap have some benefits over reusables, but a huge negative has always been what to do with them once used, according to Sanders.
“We decided to offer a plastic recycling program, where we would take back any type of plastic products they would use. ... We’re able to recycle, no matter the material ... no matter the color.”
Streamline provides each facility with a 60-inch recycling baler and establishes a pickup schedule based on the amount of plastic that accumulates over a period of time.
The facilities save approximately $1,500 to $1,700 per month on average in disposal costs, according to Sanders, plus they receive rebates on the baled plastics based on the current market value.
“We break it back down to pellets, plastic pellets,” Sanders says. “We will turn that back into either plastic bags or, if we’re a little bit overwhelmed with the amount of plastic, we’ll sell it to other users.”
His company’s clients range from independent laundries to corporate accounts.
“We felt this program would be a key component of our overall green strategy,” says Mel Davis, senior vice president of operations for Angelica Corp., which recycles 3.5 million pounds of plastic annually at 28 sites nationwide. “In addition to helping the environment, this program has allowed us to standardize and simplify our operations.”
“We were experiencing escalating waste costs and saw an opportunity to reduce expenses,” says Alan Wilson, vice president of Florida Linen Services, Pompano Beach, Fla. “We also recognized that this program could contribute to environmentally conscious initiatives.”
“We were paying large Dumpster bills each week due to the large volume of plastic film we were discarding,” says Gordon Mouras, Purchase Area Laundry, Metropolis, Ill.
Any adjustments needed to accommodate the program were minor, according to the three men.
Davis reports minor reconfigurations at three or four plants; a time investment to create a standard process of pickup, ordering and handling; and some employee training.
“We do need to commit some space on our property until we complete a full load (20 bales) of plastic to return,” Wilson says. “There is some labor involved in the baling operation, but we incurred labor cost with our previous method, also.”
“We do have bales that sit outside of our laundry for a while,” Mouras says.
All three men recommend taking advantage of such opportunities.
“We believe others should seriously consider this program,” Davis says. “It is not only the right thing to do, but also a winning proposition for everyone.”

About the author

Bruce Beggs

American Trade Magazines LLC

Editorial Director, American Trade Magazines LLC

Bruce Beggs is editorial director of American Trade Magazines LLC, including American Coin-Op, American Drycleaner and American Laundry News. He was the editor of American Laundry News from November 1999 to May 2011. Beggs has worked as a newspaper reporter/editor and magazine editor since graduating from Kansas State University in 1986 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communications. He and his wife, Sandy, have two children.


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