Brightmark’s $950 Million Georgia Initiative to Fight Plastic Waste

A person sorting plastic bottles from a trash bag into a recycling box

95% of U.S. plastics miss recycling, with only half of the Southeast having proper facilities. (Photo Credit: Unsplash+ with Getty Images.)

by | Apr 23, 2024

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Brightmark, a leader in circular solutions, has unveiled plans to establish a new 2.5 million-square-foot circularity center in Thomaston, Georgia. This facility will feature the capacity to repurpose over 400,000 tons of plastic annually, leveraging Brightmark’s proprietary technology. Its innovative process transforms discarded plastics into new materials for circular products, effectively diverting waste from landfills, incinerators, and waterways.

Strategic Economic and Community Benefits

Positioned in rural West Central Georgia, this $950 million initiative promises significant economic uplift, creating nearly 200 advanced manufacturing roles and bolstering local infrastructure. The development will enhance utilities, roads, and rail access, fostering substantial growth in the regional financial and tax base. Brightmark has been a proactive partner with the Georgia Recycling Coalition (GRC) since 2021, supporting a range of recycling initiatives and educational programs in alignment with its commitment to community engagement.

Addressing the Plastic Pollution Crisis

Plastic waste remains a critical environmental challenge, with 95% of U.S. plastic products failing to enter the recycling stream. Recent studies indicate limited recycling access in the Southeast, with only 49% of the population having drop-off recycling facilities and a mere 42% with curbside collection. Brightmark’s approach targets these hard-to-recycle plastics from various sources—including industrial sites and schools—and collaborates with material recovery facilities to reclaim post-consumer plastic, thus fostering a robust circular economy.

A Commitment to Environmental and Community Health

The center is designed as a synthetic minor emitter, employing the best technologies to minimize emissions. Furthermore, Brightmark is investing over $1 million in Zero Liquid Discharge technology to manage all process wastewater on-site, safeguarding local water supplies, including the Flint River and other water bodies.

Brightmark is dedicated to the well-being of its employees and the broader community, with rigorous safety protocols and an Emergency Action Plan (EAP) that surpasses regulatory demands. These measures are crucial to maintaining safety standards and addressing potential emergencies effectively.

A Vision for the Future

Chase Fallin, Chairman of the Thomaston-Upson County Industrial Development Authority, is thrilled to welcome Brightmark to the region, stating, “Creating jobs, growing our community, and building for our future is the cornerstone of economic development. This project encompasses all of those tenets. We welcome Brightmark to our community and look forward to seeing the project prosper.”

Norman Allen, Chairman of the Upson County Board of Commissioners, added, “Over the last year and a half, Brightmark has demonstrated a strong desire to become a collaborative partner and responsible steward of the local environment. I have visited their plant in Ashley, Indiana and was impressed by what I saw. I want to thank everyone who had a hand in making this happen. This is a huge win!”

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