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Industrial recycler adds capacity in North Carolina

By: Mike Verespej

November 28, 2012

ERIE, PA. (Nov. 28, 3:50 p.m. ET) — Pennsylvania-based EPI Recycling Solutions has begun pellet production at its industrial plastics recycling plant in Sanford, N.C.

The pellets are being produced with an S:GRAN 125 recycling machine that can reprocess 1,500 pounds of material per hour, increasing the plant’s capacity to 1 million pounds per month, said Kurt Duska, president of both EPI Recycling Solutions of Erie, Pa., and sister company injection molding contract manufacturer Engineered Plastics LLC, whose molding plant is in Lake City, Pa.

The 30,000 square foot plant in Sanford — the first recycling plant for EPI outside of its headquarters plant in Erie — represents an investment of more $1.1 million. It opened in April with a single granulator and baler.

“To service our existing national customers, increase our customer base, and to offer service to multiple locations, it was necessary to open an additional facility,” Duska told Plastics News. “Recycling facilities are typically limited due to incoming freight cost. Our model is a 300-mile radius for incoming material, and the Sanford facility is 600 miles from our primary facility in Erie.

“Opening a facility in Sanford [gives us] the capability to handle large sections of the country [as the] North Carolina area has many customers that are looking for our capabilities and recycling concepts.

“The NGR shredder/densifier/pelletizer offers us one machine that can process multiple materials in various forms,” he said. “We need to be able to process everything from 150-pound ABS purges to polystyrene and polyethylene foam, and molding scrap to thermoform trays.”

Duska expects the shredder, made by Austrian-based Next Generation Recyclingmaschinen GmbH, to be operating on three shifts in January, just as its Erie plant that already operates around the clock.

“We are excited to add the NGR equipment to our offering of services and see this as a long-term investment in North Carolina,” he said. “We believe that coupling the latest design in recycling equipment with our creative recycling concepts will allow companies to convert waste-plastic cost to revenue and improve their environmental position.

“Our main focus is post-industrial plastics,” said Duska. “The majority of our work is in packaging and process scrap. We handle flexible films on rolls and bulk including [polyethylene], polypropylene, biaxially oriented polypropylene film, as well as bags and stretch film.”

He said the company also reprocesses some multi-layer materials and all rigid plastics including engineered grades and filled material from injection, blow and extrusion applications.

In addition, he said the company works with hospitals and other non-manufacturing businesses on clean packaging and sustainability as Engineered Plastics was one of the eight founding members of the now 18-month-old Healthcare Plastics Recycling Council.

Duska said the company strives to provide creative solutions to customers at both of its recycling plants.

“We have developed a post-industrial single-stream program for customers that we manage,” he said. “Our post-industrial stream is focused on plastics, but it also offers mixed trailer solutions for cardboard, metal, paper and other items.”

That approach, said Duska, provides customers with a solution for low to high volume products. On one truck, there may be blow molded bottles, rolls of film, baled cardboard, scrap injection parts, and 100-pound purges.

“The process starts with a waste audit, but it never really ends,” Duska said. “We look at process scrap, and internal and external logistics. In addition, we design changes in systems and materials to improve recycling and eliminate waste.

“Often, we participate up and down stream to provide a complete recycling solution,” he said “We can offer unique disassembly and sorting programs geared to specific customers needs.” A case in point: it recently helped divert more than 175,000 lbs. of thermoset plastics from landfills.

“This is an opportunity for the state to improve its post industrial recycling and help reduce bottom line spending,” explained Bob Heuts, director of the Lee County Economic Development Corp. “Companies won’t have to pay to dispose of their materials and it will reduce” costs companies incur when they send materials to landfills.