Once full of promise, recycler Nextlife shuts down

By Jim Johnson
Senior Staff Reporter

Published: December 2, 2013 6:19 pm ET
Updated: December 2, 2013 6:20 pm ET

Related to this story

Topics Sustainability, Recycling

These days, Nextlife Holding LLC’s website is still up and running, touting the company’s successes and plans for employing hundreds and hundreds of workers to recycle plastics.

But the doors are closed at the company’s plant in Frankfort, Ky., and the equipment sits idle. And calls to the company’s Boca Raton, Fla., phone number include in this familiar refrain: “We’re sorry you have reached a number that has been disconnected or is no longer in service.”

Local media coverage out of Frankfort painted a grim picture. First about 40 full-time workers were laid off in July, leaving 71 still on the job, according to The State Journal newspaper. The other shoe dropped for those remaining folks, the paper said in October, when the plant closed.

And then, just weeks later, the Kentucky Capital Development Corp., decided to go after the company for $700,000 still owed for equipment purchased through a grant.

It’s a story of business dreams unrealized, promises unfulfilled.

Nextlife, armed with the confidence after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration gave tacit approval to a process would allow recycled polystyrene and polypropylene resins to be used for food grade packaging, identified Frankfort in plans to invest $9.5 million and employee about 300 at full capacity.

A shuttered automobile parts factory found new life in a new economy by taking others’ discards and making recycled resin even though employment projects eventually were scaled back to about 160.

This was the kind of project that brought out Kentucky’s governor for a ribbon cutting ceremony in 2010.

This was the kind of project that had politicians and company officials talking like politicians and company officials do at these kinds of events, news coverage at the time showed. Gov. Steve Beshear pointed to the site as a sign of progress.

There was good reason for people to be enthused about the recycled plastic-based project at a time when the nation’s unemployment rate was still at 9.5 percent.

Nextlife CEO Ronald Whaley, at the time, said the plant would not be around except for the hard work of local officials.

These days, Whaley runs a consultancy, according to his LinkedIn profile. Once the public face of Nextlife, he had little to say about the company when recently contacted. His profile said he left the company in July.

“I don’t really know,” he said, when asked about the company. “I really haven’t been involved in it.”

Kim Smith, executive director of the development corporation, said the site is matter is in the hands of the lawyers as her organization tries to recoup its loan.

Equipment purchased with the funds remains at the facility, she said. Closure of the site did not come as a complete surprise to the economic developer.

“We had been meeting with them monthly for the last three or four months trying to keep on top of where things were. They were trying to get investors and I think it just got to the point to where time ran out,” Smith said in a Dec. 2 interview.

“We’re disappointed that things didn’t work out for them. Any time you lose a business, it’s disappointing,” he said.

A person familiar with the company’s situation also indicated that Nextlife’s recycling facility in Rogers, Ark., also closed before the Kentucky location shuttered its operations. It was only last October that the company announced plans for that plastics recycling facility that was to cost $10 million and employ 350.

 


Comments

Once full of promise, recycler Nextlife shuts down

By Jim Johnson
Senior Staff Reporter

Published: December 2, 2013 6:19 pm ET
Updated: December 2, 2013 6:20 pm ET

Post Your Comments


Back to story


More stories

PE suppliers go after oxo-biodegradable technology in Mexico

July 31, 2014 1:12 pm ET

Mexican industry defends itself, calling claims 'misleading'    More

Bioplastic created using rice starch

July 31, 2014 10:40 am ET

The new transparent, biodegradable material has a high degree of mechanical strength and good thermal resistance.    More

Image

DC banning PS foam containers

July 30, 2014 2:34 pm ET

Washington D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray signed into law on July 29 a bill that will ban polystyrene foam food and drink containers from the District.    More

Image

Sainsbury, Schoeller Allibert to recycle food handling crates

July 30, 2014 1:37 pm ET

British retail group Sainsbury's has contracted Dutch recycler Schoeller Allibert BV to reprocess all of its old food crates back into food-grade...    More

Image

Vinyl siding's lead slips, but industry pushing back

July 29, 2014 2:04 pm ET

Vinyl siding continues to be the top cladding choice for home builders and remodelers but fiber cement is gaining ground — at an alarming rate t...    More

Market Reports

Pipe, Profile & Tubing Extrusion in North America 2014

U.S. demand for extruded plastics is expected to grow by 3 percent in 2014, with PVC remaining the largest segment.

Plastic pipe will post the strongest gains through 2018, continuing to take market share from competing materials in a range of markets.

Our latest market report provides in-depth analysis of current trends and their financial impact on the pipe, profile and tubing extrusion industry in North America.

Learn more

2014 Injection Molding Industry Report

GROWTH, OPPORTUNITY IN SIGHT FOR INJECTION MOLDERS IN 2014

In the wake of the economic turbulence earlier in this decade, molders today find themselves in much better shape. Molders are gaining a competitive advantage by investing in people, equipment and seeking inroads into new markets on a global scale.

Growth in the injection molding industry is going to be driven by low financing costs and a continued move to reshore some business.

Learn more

Shale Gas Market - Analysis of North American Region

This report highlights the impact of shale-based natural gas on the North American plastics market and features an in-depth analysis of production trends in the United States during 2013 and a forecast for 2014 and beyond.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

September 10, 2014 - September 12, 2014Plastics Caps & Closures 2014

January 14, 2015 - January 14, 2015Plastics in Automotive

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

More Events