Staunton’s Community Created a Unique Solution To Recycling, Repurposing Plastics to a Circular Econ
As an impressionable design student, Scott Tiernan was traveling in Scandinavia when he had an eye-opening discovery: a sheet of refabricated plastic that captured his imagination.
“I had never seen anything like it before — and it was just plastic,” he said. “So I did some research and realized ‘I can make this.’”
That experience ignited Tiernan’s passion for recycling. When he returned to Virginia, he launched POP Plastic, a small Staunton business that converts local post-consumer plastic into furniture and home goods. It’s his personal way to counter the wastefulness of a throwaway economy while giving back to his community.
“I’m trying to be part of the solution,” he said.
“Like many small towns, Staunton is stuck in the middle between metropolitan areas with easy access to recycling infrastructure and remote rural areas that lack it,” said Jeff Johnston, the city’s director of public works. And while he’s convinced Staunton’s citizens want to recycle, Johnston is hard-pressed to provide that service.
“I had a source for #1 and #2 plastic,” Johnston said. “No one in the area was taking #4 and #5 plastic, and that’s when I ran into Scott Tiernan.”
They talked about the city’s need to offload unwanted plastic and Tiernan’s need for the material to stoke his business. “If you can collect the plastic that I need, I think that I can help you out,” Tiernan offered.
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Scott Tiernan is a participant in SCCF's Startup Shenandoah Valley accelerator program. Learn more about S2V here.