MicroGreen's InCycle PET sheet is driving company's growth

Dan Hockensmith

Published: July 26, 2011 6:00 am ET

Related to this story

Topics Packaging, Consumer Products, Film & Sheet, Thermoforming, Recycling

ARLINGTON, WASH. (July 26, 2:35 p.m. ET) — Less than a year after its introduction to the marketplace, a recycled PET sheet for signage and food-contact applications also may to help a growing Washington state firm capitalize on recent regulatory developments in PET packaging.

The recent decision by the Retail Council of Canada mandating that supermarket clamshell food packaging be made from PET by 2012 is potentially a great development for Arlington-based MicroGreen Polymers Inc., President and CEO Tom Malone said in a June 30 telephone interview.

“Those conversations are early and still in development, but we are ready to support the [Canadian supermarket] supply chain,” Malone said.

The company has touted its InCycle-brand sheet’s suitability for thermoformed clamshells and other food-grade containers since bringing the technology to market in 2008.

MicroGreen officials also are closely following the unfolding situation in California, where the state Senate on June 2 passed a bill that would ban food vendors from dispensing items in a polystyrene foam food container beginning in 2014.

The bill, which is before the state Assembly for debate, follows in the footsteps of local PS take-out bans enacted by 40 California communities.

Malone said he prefers to see industry innovation rather than legislation driving changes in take-out containers, and that InCycle will gain market share as a result.

“We’re very confident in PET being food safe. It’s been the most widely used polymer in direct food contact [packaging] for decades; and we can substitute InCycle for [expanded polystyrene] applications, particularly for hot coffee cups or cold beverage cups.

“We expect that we’ll be hitting the market with those kinds of products in the next couple of years,” he said.

InCycle relies on MicroGreen’s patented Ad-air technology to reduce the amount of plastic required. Ad-air creates bubbles within solid-state plastics to expand the materials and improve their functionality, creating an internal microcellular structure that the company claims is lighter in weight, more insulating, strong and more highly reflective than other materials.

Recently, Image Options — a Foothill Ranch, Calif.-based large-format retail and event installation graphics company that has partnered with MicroGreen since InCycle’s commercialization — introduced a new “green” printing method, running InCycle sheets through its EFI Vutek GS3250 LX ultraviolet-curing digital inkjet printer.

InCycle, which can contain up to 50 percent recycled plastic — replaced PVC and EPS sheet in Image Options’ lineup, Malone said.

InCycle has been an eco-friendly and economically sustainable alternative for print and signage, especially in point-of-purchase displays, Image Options CEO Tim Bennett said in a July 5 telephone interview.

Unlike some of its “green” competitors, InCycle’s attributes of lightness, clean cutting and scoring, and good surface quality with no need for lamination mean that it prints exceptionally well, Bennett said. Plus, it’s no small affair that InCycle is attractively priced from the printer’s perspective.

“One of the smarter things that [MicroGreen] did was to come out with [InCycle] priced competitively against all these other [so-called green] products, so essentially it becomes cheaper than styrene. Whether we pass that all the way through[ to customers] remains to be seen at this point,” Bennett said.

“One of the things that’s happened with a lot of the other materials that came out recently [was that] they came out priced in a premium way. That’s backfired to some point,” he said.

InCycle sheet can be found at Costco stores in point-of-purchase signage, and several sheet suppliers have begun distributing the product to printers across the United States.

MicroGreen was founded in 2002. In 2006, it completed a Series A round of funding which netted $2.5 million and in 2010 the firm completed a Series B funding round, which brought in about $6.9 million. An insider extension of the Series B round in the fourth quarter of 2010 pulled in about $3.8 million.

In addition to Houston-based Waste Management Inc. — which diverts PET from its landfills to be recycled into InCycle sheet — MicroGreen counts among its financial backers Seattle-based WRF Capital and Northwest Energy Angels, a Seattle-based group of private investors.

With its national distribution network in place, the company expects to raise a round of growth capital later this year, Malone said.

 “That [money] will go for sales and marketing, a little bit for [research and development], and then we’ll have the ability to commit to large contracts, because we’ll have a cash availability for growing other lines and potentially putting some of those lines in place in other locations,” he said.

MicroGreen’s 40,000-square-foot plant is producing 250 million square feet of InCycle sheet per year, which potentially is worth about $30 million in sales, Malone said.

The company’s second production line in Arlington is a thermoforming line that can support about $20 million in sales annually, with capacity to produce 1 billion 6-ounce cups per year, he said.

MicroGreen initially operated a sourcing and contract manufacturing facility for joint development projects in Green Bay, Wis., with Sierra Coating Technologies LLC. That partnership ended in 2010 when MicroGreen opened its facility in Washington state.

MicroGreen expects full-year 2011 sales to be about $8 million, Malone said. The company employs 31.


Comments

MicroGreen's InCycle PET sheet is driving company's growth

Dan Hockensmith

Published: July 26, 2011 6:00 am ET

Post Your Comments


Back to story


More stories

Image

Berry's rebranded Blue Clover expands packaging design reach

January 23, 2015 1:59 pm ET

As design director of Berry Plastics Corp.'s rebranded packaging design studio, Scott Fisher believes the new name of Blue Clover Studios cuts the...    More

Image

W&H buys bigger stake in BSW

January 23, 2015 10:43 am ET

Windmoeller & Hoelscher KG will get more involved in flexible packaging machinery through its bigger stake in machinery maker BSW Machinery Handels-...    More

Image

Esterform buys Constar UK, doubles PET preform capacity

January 23, 2015 10:07 am ET

Constar UK, once part of global packaging firm Constar International Holdings LLC, has a new owner.    More

Image

Recycling Partnership coalition kicks off its initial curbside project

January 22, 2015 3:51 pm ET

The Recycling Partnership's inaugural effort to boost curbside recycling around the country kicked off this week in Columbia, S.C.    More

Image

Delia to take over as CEO at Amcor

January 22, 2015 10:27 am ET

There will be a leadership change at the helm of Australian packaging company Amcor Ltd. starting in July.    More

Market Reports

Plastics in Automotive: Innovation & Emerging Trends

This special report newly released by PN and sponsored by The Conair Group examines current trends in the use of plastics in automotive, materials innovations and the changing landscape. It includes a review of legislative/regulatory activity impacting vehicle development and lightweighting, market opportunities & challenges for mold and toolmakers, innovative design strategies being implemented by major OEMs and suppliers, as well as a review of key indicators in Canada, Mexico, Brazil and China.

Learn more

Plastics Recycling Trends in North America

This report is a review and analysis of the North American Plastics Recycling Industry, including key trends and statistics based on 2013 performance. We examine market environment factors, regulatory issues, industry challenges, key drivers and emerging trends in post-consumer and post-industrial recycling.

Learn more

Injection Molding Market Analysis & Processor Rankings

Plastics News BUNDLED package contains our in-depth Market Analysis of the Injection Molding segment. You will gain keen insight on current trends and our economic outlook.

As a BONUS this includes PN's updated 2014 database of North American Injection Molders RANKED by sales volume. Sort, merge, mail & prospect by end market, materials processed, region, # of plants and more.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

February 4, 2015 - February 6, 2015Plastics News Executive Forum 2015

June 2, 2015 - June 3, 2015Plastics Financial Summit - Chicago 2015

September 16, 2015 - September 18, 2015Plastics Caps & Closures - September 2015

More Events