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Food City Unveils Plastic Recycling Program for Customers in Tennessee

Eastman helps grocer offer convenient and accessible recycling options
Marian Zboraj, Progressive Grocer
Food City Eastman Recycling
Food City's partnership with Eastman is part of commitment to advancing the circular economy and reducing the environmental impact of plastic waste.

Regional grocer Food City and Eastman, a global specialty materials company, have unveiled the first of three plastic recycling collection bins that will be located at the retailer’s stores in Kingsport, Tenn. The partnership program – Shop, Recycle, Repeat, announced last November – will enable area customers to drop off their plastic waste since curbside pickup is no longer available. The collected plastic will be sorted and processed by Eastman's new mixed plastics processing facility, a part of the new molecular recycling plant which the company says is the largest material-to-material recycling facility in the world.

The first plastic recycling collection bin can now be found at the Food City on Eastman Road. Shop, Recycle, Repeat will soon launch at two other Food City stores in Kingsport and will expand to other Food City locations in the region throughout the year. Customers can drop off their plastic waste, such as water bottles, colored laundry and shampoo bottles, trays and fruit containers, among many other plastic items. 

By offering convenient and accessible recycling options for the public, Shop, Recycle, Repeat will help divert plastic waste from landfills or incineration to create valuable new materials that can be used in a variety of applications again and again. Eastman’s molecular recycling technology breaks down plastic waste into its molecular building blocks, which are then used to create new high-performance plastics that are said to be indistinguishable from virgin materials. This technology can recycle plastics that are typically difficult to recycle, such as colored laundry detergent bottles, clamshell fruit packaging, polyester fabrics, shampoo bottles, and more.

[RELATED: Understanding the Need to Reduce Plastic Packaging]

“Food City is excited to partner with Eastman, a world-class company and a long-time leader in our community, to bring plastics recycling to our customers,” said Steven C. Smith, Food City president and CEO. “The bin at our Eastman Road location is the first of three that will be available within the next month at our Kingsport stores, and we look forward to expanding the partnership at additional Food City locations later this year. By working together, we can make a lasting impact across our region.”

“We’re excited to unveil the first recycling bins and are so proud that they were designed and created by talented Eastman craftspeople who work at our facility in Kingsport,” added Brad Lich, EVP and chief commercial officer at Eastman. “This partnership is an important step in our region to bring additional plastics recycling options to our community and demonstrates our shared vision for a more sustainable future, where plastic waste is seen as a valuable resource that can be transformed into new products.”

Eastman employs approximately 14,000 people around the world and serves customers in more than 100 countries. The Kingsport, Tenn.-based company had 2023 revenue of approximately $9.2 billion.

Food City’s parent company, Abingdon, Va.-based K-VA-T Food Stores, operates more than 150 retail outlets throughout southeast Kentucky, southwest Virginia, east Tennessee, north Georgia and Alabama. K-VA-T is No. 70 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2023 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America

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