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Recycling ventures keep on coming.

Recycling Ventures Keep on Coming

As the furor over plastic waste clogging the nation's already overburdened landfills continues to mount, so do the number of ventures that are emerging to remove discarded plastics from the waste stream for recycling.

Many of these undertakings have already been discussed (see PT June '89, p. 105, July '89, p. 107 and Nov. '89, p. 93-97), but more are on the way. In fact, huge plants dedicated to reprocessing plastic containers are springing up around the country, as well as in Canada. These are among the projects recently implemented or expected to see fruition in the coming months:

* A plant in southern New Jersey that's the first facility to use technology developed from years of experimentation by the Center for Plastics Recycling Research at Rutgers University.

* Plans by two separate groups to form nationwide recycling networks by stretching a series of plants across the country.

* Manufacturers of consumer goods joining the act by recycling their plastics packaging and putting more reprocessed resin in new containers, including the first-ever venture to recycle injection molded HDPE containers.

* A plant in Ontario for recycling 26 million lb/yr of soiled homogeneous and comingled plastics.


The new recycling center opened in Bridgeport, N.J., this fall by Day & Zimmerman Inc., Philadelphia, is the first plant in the country to incorporate some of the new technology developed over the past few years by the Center for Plastics Recycling Research at New Jersey's Rutgers University. The 60,000-sq-ft plant, operated by Day & Zimmerman subsidiary, Day Products, is designed to recycle PET beverage containers and reportedly eliminates the most common problem in regrinding plastic bottles--separating the various plastic and non-plastic materials involved.

The Day Products process is centered around a "hydrocyclone" that mixes the shredded bottles with water and rapidly spins them to separate the heavier HDPE basecup material and bottle-cap aluminum from the lighter PET, doing away with the need for chemical solvents used in many other bottle-recycling processes. The plant is expected to recycle 30-50 million lb of plastic annually.


By the end of the year, Boston-based National Polystyrene Recycling Co. (NPRC) hopes to have at least five plants across the country for recycling food-service packaging. NPRC is a consortium of PS resin producers.

The first facility, Plastics Again, Leominster, Mass., was acquired by NPRC from Mobil Chemical Co. and Genpak Corp. in the summer. It was opened this fall. NPRC's goal, a company spokesman says, is to recycle 25% of all food-service packaging by 1995. To accomplish this, plants will also be constructed in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, and Philadelphia.

To get the Leominster plant going, NPRC has begun collecting and recycling PS from 100 McDonald's restaurants in New England. By early next year, the company hopes to increase that number to 450. The recycled plastic will be sold to companies such as Rubbermaid and Traex to make videocassettes, office and household items, and foam trays for reuse in fast-food easteries, the spokesman says.

In another effort to build a nationwide plastics recycling network, the wTe Corp., Bedford, Mass., has agreed to purchase Feedstock Inc., a polystyrene recycling company in Mount Vernon, Ind. The acquisition of Feedstock, which wTe hopes to turn into a 3-million-lb/yr recycling operation, broadens wTe's burgeoning recycling empire. The company already operates several plants across the U.S., including one in California that recycles PET and HDPE. In addition, wTe has developed a proprietary process for reprocessing PS that is being used at a plant in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Brooklyn is also home to another new recycling venture, a plant that manufactures traffic-safety products such as cones and barricades from recycled bottles and rigid containers. Sponsored in part by Brooklyn Union Gas, a local energy company, the recycling venture is being carried out by Utility Plastics, Brooklyn.

The traffic-safety produts, which will be used in N.Y.C., will contain as much as 98% reprocessed plastic, says a spokesman for the utility. Plans call for the company to contract with a Connecticut-based hauling firm, as well as a local materials broker, to deliver collected HDPE, PET and PVC bottles and containers for recycling and remanufacturing.


As recycling consciousness begins to penetrate a larger segment of the general population, an increasing number of consumer-product manufacturers are taking steps to reprocess some of their plastic packaging. In December, Sonoco Graham, York, Pa., reportedly the nation's largest manufacturer of HDPE bottles, announced that Valvoline and Exxon have begun selling some of their motor oil and transmission fluids in packages made from recycled plastic milk bottles. After the operation had been on line for a month, more than 2 million bottles were made using recycled plastic, a Sonoco Graham spokesman says.

Using proprietary technology, Sonoco Graham is able to make the reprocessed bottles "every bit as bright, colorful, and attractive as the original bottles made without recycled plastic." The unpigmented plastic from milk bottles can be blended with color concentrates and virgin PE to produce a package with an uncompromised appearance, the spokesman says. Sonoco Graham is testing a more complex, multilayer technology that will sandwich a broader mixture of colored and uncolored recycled bottle material between layers of virgin material, he adds.

Eastman Kodak Co., Rochester, N.Y., has begun an experimental program to recycle its plastic film containers and steel film cassettes. The program will be tried at eight photofinishing labs in five states. In total, the labs will recycle 750,000 lb of plastic each year, Kodak reports.

PE and steel will be ground into tiny flakes that can be used as raw material for other plastic products. According to company sources, Kodak will consider reusing the materials, but they must be tested because impurities could make plastic or steel flakes photoactive, causing the film to fog.

In St. Albans, Vt., Vermont Republic Industries (VRI) and Oxy Petrochemicals (formerly Cain Chemicals), Dallas, have teamed up to recycle HDPE ice-cream containers used by the Ben & Jerry's Homemade ice-cream chain. The venture is among the first ever to recycle injection molded HDPE containers, a VRI spokesman said.

Oxy will provide specially designed washing and drying equipment as well as technical and marketing support and training to VRI. Initially, the joint venture will recycle 4-gal pails used by the ice-cream manufacturer. Ben & Jerry's reportedly receives its raw ingredients in HDPE pails that amount to about 100,000 lb of plastic/yr.

VRI representatives say their system can handle up to 400,000 lb of plastic/yr. With Oxy's assistance, VRI says it plans to market the reground containers to processors for conversion into bins and park benches. Long-term plans call for producing products for sale in Ben & Jerry's stores.


Later this month, Resource Plastics, a new player in the recycling race, expects to open a 26-million-lb/yr plant near Brantford, Ont., for reprocessing soiled plastic. The plant will regrind a variety of polymers, including PS, PP, PE, ABS, PET and engineering resins, a company spokesman says. Initially, Resource Plastics will concentrate on recycling high-volume, bulky plastic industrial and institutional waste.

Early this year, Clean Tech, Inc., Dundee, Mich., plans to open a $4-million, 45,000-sq-ft plant for recycling post-consumer PET and HDPE. The company hopes to work with local governments, and garbage collectors, as well as with corporations such as Procter & Gamble, to reprocess used containers into new high-quality products.
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Author:Monks, Richard
Publication:Plastics Technology
Date:Jan 1, 1990
Previous Article:Stable prices forecast for key TP's.
Next Article:Modular systems, more resins make news at SAE '89.

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