COTTAGE GROVE, Ore. - Those colorful plastic 6-pack holders in the craft beer cooler at your corner store?
They are made in Lane County at PakTech plants in Eugene and Cottage Grove.
"We shove it into the mold, and then we have a certain amount of time for it to cool before we take it out," explains PakTech's Gary Panknin.
Their business is on the grow - even as cities like Seattle ban plastic straws and utensils, and global retailer Starbucks plans to phase out plastic straws.
Panknin and his colleagues say plastics are getting a bad rap.
"Plastics are a good thing," said Panknin, "and we believe that they are here to stay for society."
For PakTech, being environmentally conscious is part of their mission.
"PakTech takes sustainability very seriously in everything that we do, even in the development of our building to the machines to the materials that we use in our product," said Panknin, the company's sustainability officer.
Their can carriers are made out of recycle household containers. Just last year, PakTech diverted 81 million milk jugs from going into landfills.
Pankinin said the big issue is potentially recyclable material going into landfills because recycling centers aren't able to properly sort different plastics.
"It needs to be addressed very strongly that they need to get the technology up to speed to use optics and other methods to properly sort different plastics and keep it out of the waste stream," he said.
RECYCLING HELP | Consult the Garbage Guru
For example, PakTech products are 100 percent recyclable - but you can't put them in curbside co-mingled recycling.
As part of the solution, PakTech is creating their own program.
Consumers can bring the can carriers to PakTech facilities in Eugene or Cottage Grove. Both locations have drop boxes.
The company has set up drop boxes at locations in California; British Columbia; and Portland. More locations are in the works.
Pankinin said it's all a part of PakTech's goal of getting their products back to where they belong: in the recycling stream, not in landfills.
LEARN MORE | Visit the PakTech website