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Schmalbach-Lubeca Plastic Containers USA Inc. temporarily is closing its Novi, Mich., PET recycling plant to use up inventory.

The shutdown will last 45-90 days. Pellets will be shipped to existing customers or used internally. Most employees were retained, but some hourly workers were released temporarily.

David Smith, manager of recycling sales and programs, likened the shutdown to the automotive industry.

``When automakers have too many cars on the lots, they stop making them for a while to reduce inventory,'' Smith said.

While no new inventory will be made, the plant will not be idle. The former Johnson Controls Plastic Container Division operation will use the opportunity to make the plant run more efficiently. The pellet extrusion equipment also will reprocess clear and green flake and post-industrial material from Schmalbach-Lubeca's bottle plants, he added.

He stressed that the plant will reopen. Schmalbach-Lubeca has ``a great interest in the whole recycling business,'' he said.

The plant makes two brands of PET post-consumer pellets, Supercycle and Nucycle. Supercycle has approval to be used in direct contact with food.

``The material we make is not directed to the fiber industry or the [middle] to low-end of the feeding chain. It can go right back into bottles or those packages having intensive quality requirements.''