Recycler sees business surge

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While the manufacturing downturn has hit some industrial plastics recyclers hard, U.S. Plastics Recovery, just outside of Atlanta in Duluth, Ga., is not only surviving — but has more than tripled its business.

In the last eight months, U.S. Plastics has moved into a bigger facility — one that is more than twice the size of its original plant — added a Vecoplan 46-inch industrial shredder, and is in the process of adding an even larger shredder that it expects to have running by April 1.

“Having this piece of equipment opens up opportunities we might have had to pass on before,” said Steve Hogan, vice president of sales and marketing and one of the firm's co-founders. The company was formed less than four years ago.

Hogan said U.S. Plastics Recovery had been looking at buying a new 52-inch Vecoplan shredder, but now is considering a refurbished one, either a single-cutter Vecoplan 52-inch shredder or a refurbished 52-inch double-cutter from Republic Services Inc.

Regardless of which shredder the company decides on, Hogan said the machine will boost U.S. Plastics' recycling capacity from 1 million to at least 1.7 million pounds. That volume is four times as much as the company's capacity just 18 months ago when the downturn hit all plastics recycling markets.

That also represents a quantum leap from May 2006, when the company started operations in a leased, 20,000-square-foot building with one Rapid 2040 granulator and one baler.

'We have tripled our sales in the last eight months,” Hogan said.

“Like most companies, we were struggling to keep everything going for several months when the market fell. But about a year ago things picked up, because we were able to land some customers who had been left high and dry” by the companies they previously dealt with.

With business increasing quickly, U.S. Plastics Recovery moved into a new, 50,000-square-foot facility in June, and shortly after that purchased a 46-inch Vecoplan shredder with a 600,000-pound capacity.

U.S. Plastics Recovery recycles the majority of its plastics from automotive and pharmaceutical companies in the Southeast. It also recycles linear low density polyethylene stretch film from distributors. The company — which recycles more than a dozen types of plastics as well as plastic, paper and metal laminates — mainly recycles polypropylene, high density PE and PVC.

“We can usually save companies up to 50 percent on their raw-material costs” by supplying them with recycled flake, Hogan said. “During tough times, that means a lot to companies.

“As we grow, my plan is to keep expanding and to buy other pieces of equipment to process the material,” he said. “We do a lot of toll grinding, so maybe down the road, we might decide to make pellets.”

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