Arizona builds microfactory to advance circular economy in plastics

08 February 2024 17:03

Phoenix - Arizona State University, the City of Phoenix, nonprofit Goodwill of Central and Northern Arizona, and local incubator Hustle PHX opened a plastic recycling microfactory in Phoenix. The facility will convert around 550 tons of plastic annually into pellets that will become materials for new products.

Academics, policymakers, nonprofits, and entrepreneurs have opened a new so-called “microfactory” in Arizona that will recycle plastics into new products while creating jobs using a cooperative business model.

A partnership between Arizona State University, the City of Phoenix, Goodwill of Central and Northern Arizona, a social welfare organization, and Hustle PHX, a startup incubator, the Circular Plastics Microfactory opened on February 6 in the state capital of Phoenix.

“We are excited to make history today in Phoenix. We have a sense that, from Phoenix, this will go throughout the world, and it’s exciting to be leading in innovation right now. Phoenix will be known for whatever great ideas come out of this facility,” said Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego at the grand opening, according to a press release.

The microfactory will take plastic accumulated at Goodwill of Central and Northern Arizona, convert it into plastic pellets, and use the pellets to make skateboards, flat-pack furniture, plastic lumber, and plastic parts for other assembled goods.

Around ten people will work at the facility, which is expected to prevent as much as 550 tons of plastic from entering landfills annually. 

“It’s the first plastics microfactory of its kind,” said Alicia Marseille, who runs the Rob and Melani Walton Sustainability Solutions Service in the Global Futures Laboratory at Arizona State University. “These components – the processing, the collections, the remanufacturing – exist, but they’re spread out all over the world. This is the first attempt to do the entire process in one location to actualize a regional circular economy.” ce/jd

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