By: Jim Johnson
January 14, 2014
A $1.4 million recycling expansion at a South Carolina fiber maker ramped up more quickly than expected, resulting in the creation of even more jobs than originally anticipated.
Palmetto Synthetics LLC now has the capacity to recapture about 36 million pounds of material each year following the installation of a second recycling line.
The Kingstree, S.C.-based company makes polyester and nylon fibers primarily sold to the automotive and military markets and has been recycling its own internal scrap material in recent years through an initial recycling line.
A new, second line doubled capacity from 18 million pounds and quickly has been a success, said David Poston, vice president of Palmetto Synthetics.
“We’re a fiber producer, making 85 percent or so polyester and 15 percent nylon. And a few years back we decided to recycle our own waste and become a zero waste company and put in a recycling line to do that. And it worked really well, so we decided to put in another one,” Poston said.
Originally expected to create 20 new jobs, Palmetto Synthetics actually has hired about 25 people to handle the added recycling volume that comes from outside scrap, he said. The company now employs about 260 workers.
“We’re primarily getting it from our customers. It’s a great story for us and our customers,” Poston said about the new recycling volume.
Palmetto Synthetics primarily sells fibers to automotive carpet manufacturers, which then return their trim waste to the company. The scrap is reprocessed into pellets and then made into fiber that’s then shipped off to make new product.
That’s called closing the loop in recycling lingo.
“The volume came a little quicker than we anticipated,” Poston said about the new recycling line. “Typically, when you put in these production lines, you sort of plan for a ramp-up period. You don’t go from zero to 100 percent capacity. But there was such a need to close this loop that we went to full capacity pretty quickly.”
The success of the second recycling line, using equipment from Weima America Inc. and Gamma Meccanica, has the company seriously considering adding even more capacity. While there are no concrete plans at this point, Poston said, the company certainly is thinking about the idea.