Properties owned by Indianapolis-based real estate company Simon Property Group Inc. have begun collecting and baling clear plastic packaging materials — such as individual plastic bags that contain the clothing that is delivered to the malls — for recycling.
Concord Mills in Concord, NC, is using a so-called “plastic room,” complete with hydraulic baler that compresses plastic such as garment bags and shrink wrap, to collect plastic for recycling, writes Plastics News. Two other Simon malls also have a plastic baling program.
The move is significant because plastic is a large portion of waste generated by shopping malls, and is a material nobody knows how to deal with, says George Caraghiaur, senior VP of sustainability for Simon Property Group. The company is working with firms and industry trade groups such as the American Chemistry Council to evaluate waste, work through logistics, and find potential buyers for the materials, which are sold to various local businesses, according to the article.
Simon Property Group’s commitment to recycling is well established, the company said in 2012. Simon announced last June that 100% of its enclosed regional malls and Mills properties now offer waste recycling to merchants. In 2011 the company completed a “Recycling Enhancement Plan” which resulted in the conversion of more than 70 compactors from trash to recycling and the diversion of an additional 6,000 tons of waste from landfills annually. Additionally, common area recycling containers were added to 40 centers, providing recycling access to shoppers. In all, Simon says it recycles over 58,000 tons of material annually and has increased its diversion rate by 25% over the previous two years.