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San Jose Hopes To Cut Plastic Waste With Cutting-Edge Recycling Facility

SAN JOSE (KPIX) - The city of San Jose is trying to lure a cutting-edge recycling company to the area in hopes of building a facility that would recycle single-use and so-called dirty plastics.

The company, PureCycle Technologies is currently building a similar facility in Ohio -- a first-in-the-nation recycling plant to deal with plastic products like microwave food trays that often end up in landfills.

"This actually takes the dirty plastics out of the stream of things that go into our landfills. Right now, only one percent of plastic that's being generated is being recycled. Only the very clean, pristine plastic," says San Jose Councilman Johnny Khamis who supports the plan.

The city is eyeing land nearly the existing Wastewater Treatment Facility in North San Jose for the new recycling operation. According to city estimates, the facility could reduce the amount of plastic waste entering local landfills by 88 percent.

"The overall major issue would be to just cut out single-use plastics entirely. So, I think this is more of a Band-Aid than a long-term solution," says Rajan Uppal, an engineering student at San Jose State University.

Uppal says she supports the facility but believes consumer packaging needs to shift its focus away from plastics in the long term.

China has adopted tougher standards for raw recycled materials, leaving a lot of plastics with nowhere to go. Councilman Khamis believes this facility and its sister plant in Ohio could be alternatives.

"We want another facility here to start making use of all the stuff we throw away. We've always been innovators here in the city of San Jose and we want to continue to innovate," Khamis said.

Councilman Khamis estimates it could take roughly four years to build the facility if the planning and permitting process with the city goes smoothly.

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