Creating a Circular Economy for Flexible Packaging & Film

MBOLD Executive Champion – Dimitrios Smyrnios, CEO of Schwan’s Company

State-of-the-art plastics recycling plant opens near Minneapolis

Regional circular economy initiative breaks new ground

MINNEAPOLIS–SAINT PAUL, MN, December 11, 2023—A state-of-the-art facility designed to recycle flexible film, awidely used material that includes pallet wrap, shrink wrap, single-useshopping bags and some food packaging, has officially opened in Rogers,Minnesota. Myplas USA, a South Africa–based plastics recycler, opened itsmechanical recycling and pelletizing plant near Minneapolis, marking a majormilestone for a collaborative effort among leading global businesses tocatalyze a regional circular economy for flexible films and packaging materialsin the Upper Midwest.   

“This is a very exciting day for Myplas as we open our U.S.headquarters and our first U.S. recycling facility in Minnesota,” said AndrewPieterse, Myplas USA CEO. “It’s been a remarkable journey to help bring thisvision to life, and we are proud to bring our expertise to this ground-breakinginitiative. The ongoing commitment of our partners has been vital to bringingus to this point. We are excited for what lies ahead.”  

At full capacity, the facility will recycle nearly 90 millionpounds of plastic waste per year, enough to encircle the globe in pallet wrapmore than 135 times. It is expected to employ nearly 200 people.   

Cross-sector support and investment  
Led by the GREATER MSP Partnership’s MBOLD coalition, this groundbreaking circular economy initiative highlights how collaboration across the value chain can drive innovation, cut waste and reduce the use of virgin plastic.   

The new Myplas facility was made possible by a joint $13 million equity investment by lead investors General Mills, Schwan’s Company and Midwest-based film manufacturer Charter Next Generation, and supporting investors Target and Ecolab. The Alliance to End Plastic Waste (AEPW), Closed Loop Partners and the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) provided additional financial support for development of the recycling facility. DEED also provided support from the Minnesota Job Skills Partnership (MJSP) for workforce training and development.  

“Reducing the impact of flexible packaging and film waste requires us to think innovatively and creatively,” said Dimitrios Smyrnios, CEO of Schwan’s Company and MBOLD’s chair and executive champion for this initiative. “Schwan’s chose to invest in Myplas because we’re committed to reducing the environmental impact of our packaging, and we want to be a catalyst for other companies to do the same. It’s the right thing to do for our environment, our business and our region.”     

Flexible film: The next frontier in recycling
 
The U.S. economy uses 12–15 billion pounds of flexible packaging and films every year for products ranging from pallet wrap to e-commerce mailers, boat wrap, food packaging, shrink wrap, lawn and garden bags, and hay bale wrap. However, only an estimated 5 percent of flexible films used in the U.S. is recycled each year, with the rest being landfilled, incinerated or released into the environment.   

“Our region is leading the nation in tackling tough sustainability issues,” said JoAnne Berkenkamp, managing director of MBOLD. “Myplas now provides regionally appropriate recycling opportunities for this challenging material, and we are driving innovation to incorporate recycled resin into new film products. Collaboration across the value chain is the secret sauce.”  

“The management of film and flexible plastic waste presents one of the most substantial opportunities for resource and value recovery in the plastic value chain,” said Nicholas Kolesch, vice president of projects at AEPW. “With Myplas at the center of the MBOLD partnership, we see the demonstration of effective cross-sector collaboration from the collection of commercial and retail film waste, to processing at converters and ultimately a pathway for brands to integrate Myplas recycled plastics in their products.”  

Minnesota Governor Tim Walz said, “The opening of the Myplas facility in Rogers is exciting news for the local community, region and entire state. By bringing a new industry with hundreds of new jobs to Minnesota, this investment is a testament to our state’s innovation, commitment to sustainable solutions and the strength of our business ecosystem. We welcome Myplas to Minnesota and celebrate the collaboration and partnership that made this win possible.”

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MBOLD aims to make Minnesota a global leader in soil health and water stewardship in collaboration with stakeholders across our region.

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