PULASKI, VA. — Recycler Blue Bird Resins is opening a 115,000-square-foot facility in Pulaski, dedicated to reprocessing recycled polystyrene for food and beverage applications.
Blue Bird is in the process of earning certification from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to produce food-grade resin, and is working with companies that specifically produce high-impact PS for food containers, said Dan Oberlander, president of Blue Bird, by phone.
"We're very psyched up about this venture," he said.
The new facility should open by April 1.
Blue Bird currently operates two facilities that sort and reprocess mixed post-industrial plastics: a small facility near its headquarters in Winchester, Va., and a 50,000 square foot facility in Pulaski. The two plants reprocess about 9 million pounds of material annually, Oberlander said.
The new facility will be a clean plant that only handles PS and won't be used for mixed materials, he said.
Blue Bird has invested about $500,000 in new equipment for the plant, with plans to spend more. The new facility is large, but Blue Bird plans to grow organically and fill-out the building, he added.
The plant will reprocess about 5 million to 10 million pounds of PS by the end of the year and could easily double Blue Bird's output in Pulaski, he said.
The company, which currently has 22 workers, plans to hire 20 new employees by the end the year.
Blue Bird is leasing its new plant — a former synthetic yarn factory located in downtown Pulaski — from the city. Oberlander declined to discuss the cost of the building, but under the lease agreement, Blue Bird will own the facility in 5 years.
"It's a great deal," he said. "It's in the heart of the city. It kind of brings new life to that area of Pulaski."