Shell Polymers is all about forming real relationships with customers, organizations, and society at large. And these real relationships? They’re called Realationships. It’s no typo—it’s a collaborative way of conducting business. While Shell Polymers gains footing in the polyethylene space, we can look to Shell USA Inc. as a shining example of how to form these strong Realationships and make an impact. Read on to learn more about larger Shell’s longstanding presenting sponsorship with the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.

You have probably seen firsthand how music festivals can generate lots of solid waste, from cardboard, plastic bottles, and aluminum cans all the way through to food. In fact, studies have shown that almost 70% of this waste typically goes to landfill.

Spoiler: It doesn’t have to be this way. That’s why Shell proactively approached the organizers of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival to help create a more environmentally sustainable festival. This included listening and collaborating with the organizers to determine the best sustainable road map for the iconic festival.

As a result, the Festival organizers agreed to expand their existing Shell-sponsored recycling program and also pioneered a number of new sustainability initiatives, including launching a new incentive program that encourages festivalgoers to recycle more, and increasing the number of recycling locations to more than 20. As a result, they diverted some 21 metric tons of waste from landfill. (Yes, you read that right.)

This included 10 metric tons of cardboard, 5 metric tons of aluminum cans and plastic bottles, 5 metric tons of food waste and just over 1 metric ton of hard-to-recycle plastics.

Moreover, for the hard-to-recycle plastics, which include flexible plastics, water bottle caps, foam materials, plastic cups and cooking oil containers, Shell introduced another innovative solution, which comprised two key steps.

The first step involved Shell sending bales of hard-to-recycle plastics to Nexus Fuels LLC, which processed it to create a pyrolysis oil.

The bales were sent to pyrolysis oil provider Nexus, which processed it into pyrolysis oil.
The bales were sent to pyrolysis oil provider Nexus, which processed it into pyrolysis oil.

The second step was for Shell to upgrade this pyrolysis oil in the cracker at its chemical plant in Norco, Louisiana. In this way, it made circular chemicals that are ISCC PLUS certified1 through the mass balance approach. So, Shell was able to provide circular chemicals to its customers that can be used to make final products that include plastics such as furniture, medical equipment, home appliances and even your trusty smartphone.

This solution, therefore, not only diverts plastic waste from landfill, it also reduces the need for raw materials and is vital for building a circular economy for plastics.

In addition to the recycling of plastics, the festival also achieved dramatic results in other areas. For example, nearly 1,000 gallons of water were used at refill stations, which is equivalent to the use of almost 8,000 single-use 16-oz bottles. In addition, the site continued its tradition of collecting used cooking oil – in 2022 it reclaimed some 2,500 gallons – and turning it into fuel for local shrimping boats.

This robust recycling program and the impressive results could not have been possible without the almost two decades of collaboration between Shell and the Festival organizers—and Shell is just getting started! Plans for the 2023 Festival include extensively expanding the recycling footprint as well as giving back to non-profits in the area for environmental and waste removal initiatives. (Let’s just say you should be pretty jazzed for what the 2023 Festival holds.)

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References

1 ISCC PLUS is part of the International Sustainability and Carbon Certification’s (ISCC) certification scheme, which allows companies to demonstrate the sustainability of their products. It guarantees, for example, that the recycled content was fed into Shell’s production system and controls how it is allocated to customers’ products.