ECOPLAST GETS OK FOR RECYCLED FOOD PACKAGING

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Ecoplast Corp. of Los Angeles has become the second company to get the green light to sell post-consumer high density polyethylene for food-packaging applications.

The Food and Drug Administration issued a nonobjection letter to Ecoplast in February, company co-owner and President Parham Yedidsion said in a telephone interview.

The letter allows Ecoplast to market its Ecosource line of post-consumer HDPE for use in applications where there would be incidental contact with nonfatty foods. The company produces the material at its Chino, Calif., facility.

Applications include produce bags, clamshell packaging for nonfatty foods and multilayer bottles for nonfatty liquids. The company also is waiting on the go-ahead to use its recycled resins for food trays and baskets.

``We feel it is a very big step as far as recycling in general is concerned,'' he said. ``It's not something most manufacturers of recycled materials are doing, although they are learning to do so. We are one of only two companies in the United States who have such an approval,'' he claimed.

Union Carbide Corp. received a similar nonobjection letter from the FDA in 1995, but closed its Piscataway, N.J., HDPE recycling facility before producing materials for food-contact use.

Ecoplast has production capacity for its new resins up and running, and is starting to supply its food-packaging-grade resin to two customers, Yedidsion said.

The key to winning the FDA approval was the use of automation and stringent quality-control measures in the selection of recycled materials for the Ecosource line, Yedidsion said.

``We are not just another plain Jane recycler who says, `We know our product is bad, so just use it,''' he said. ``We are trying to improve our product all the time. As far as our company is concerned, we feel the only way to find new markets is to be able to offer a competitive product at a competitive price.''

Yedidsion said his company, a distributor and compounder of virgin, off-spec and recycled resins, can blend the recycled resins with virgin HDPE, but is focusing mainly on selling its 100 percent recycled product.

Nonfood uses for its Ecosource line include bottles, film for grocery and trash bags, pipe and profiles, injection molding and sheet applications.

Ecoplast is a privately held company Yedidsion owns with Massoud F. Rad.

Yedidsion declined to give exact sales and employment figures for the 30-year-old firm, but said sales are ``somewhere in eight figures'' and employment is less than 100.