Cascade designed the product alongside Waste Management and Liz Bedard, the director of the Association of Plastic Recyclers’ (APR) Rigid Plastics Recycling Program. The cart is also part of Waste Management's commitment to APR's Demand Champions program. The initiative asks participating members to raise the amount of recycled plastic they use in certain products year by year.
Additionally, the cart caters to municipalities that want to prove recycling isn’t just something they ask of residents, but something the local government supports. While the EcoCart launch is very new, Bedard said APR has already been fielding request from municipalities interested in potentially buying them as well.
“Our municipalities, our cities, they want to walk the talk,” said Perkins at the forum.
Many HDPE carts already contain some recycled plastic in the form of reground, retired carts the manufacturer has collected from the field. The EcoCart will add residential plastics to the mix by incorporating bulky rigid plastics — items like laundry baskets or cat litter boxes – also made with HDPE. Evolving scrap import restrictions have left more bulky rigid plastics with limited market options in recent years and APR has been looking to help manufacturers make better use of these residential products.
In addition to the HDPE collected by Waste Management, Cascade will also be supplementing virgin resin with more reground cart material than some other manufacturers currently utilize. The latter source varies depending on the cart color, Perkins said via email. Typically, lighter carts contain less recycled resin because any impurities throw off color consistency.
For now, EcoCarts will only contain 10% bulky rigid plastic because those products sometimes have polypropylene mixed in. This other plastic can contaminate the mixture and potentially make the product less durable, Perkins said.
Concerns about contamination are why cart manufacturers have hesitated to incorporate anything except reground cart in the past, but this new partnership could begin to change that. Cascade is working with Waste Management and KW Plastics to remove more polypropylene from bulky rigid plastics, with the goal of having EcoCarts be 25% post-consumer HDPE by 2025.
“I am confident we will get there in the next year or so,” Perkins said.