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New Omaha plant to elevate recycling, turning trash into plastic lumber

Published: Jul. 29, 2021 at 7:28 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - An Omaha recycling and manufacturing plant is turning hard-to-recycle items into something we can all use. Firststar Fiber’s facility will be turning plastic waste into a lumber-like material.

“You only have to walk outside and walk down any street, and you see the material that should have been turned into something,” said Dale Gubbels, president and CEO of First Star Fiber.

Firststar takes hard-to-recycle items as part of the “Hefty Orange Bag Program,” and turns those items into plastic resin, so new items can be made.

Until now, that plastic resin has been sent elsewhere. Now Omaha will be a hub for manufacturing.

“We are going to be making plastic lumber.”

You will be able to use it for a brand new deck and even deck furniture.

“A plastic deck is going to last through several lifetimes,” said Gubbels.

For your part, all you have to do is fill your orange Hefty bag with items like chip bags, styrofoam, and even your toothbrush.

First Star is working with the Alliance to End Plastic Waste to make this a reality.

Omaha is just one of a handful of places across the country going through the entire process of making hard to recycle items to resin all the way to a final product.

The Alliance to End Plastic Waste will be helping with some of the finances.

“And to help this grow more importantly into something that will be replicated and scaled not only in the US but globally,” said Steve Sikra, Alliance to End Plastic Waste.

Once the equipment is installed and production gets underway, about 700,000 linear feet of plastic resin will be reused each year.

“We can be making a lot of lumber here,” Gubbles said.

Eventually, First Star hopes to make other products, including an alternative to concrete.

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