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Recycler Maine Plastics shuts down

By: Frank Esposito

March 24, 2014

Maine Plastics Inc. — one of North America’s largest plastics recyclers — has closed its doors.

“Due to the actions taken by our bank, Maine Plastics can no longer purchase or take delivery of your recyclables,” CEO David Kaplan said in an automatic reply to his company e-mail address. “We realize, with such a short notice, this may put you in difficult position, and for that we sincerely apologize.”

“On behalf of everyone here at Maine Plastics, I thank you for the support you have given us over the years and I sincerely apologize for the difficult position this action may have put you in,” he added. “If there are any further developments which would allow the resumption of deliveries, we will contact you.”

The closing affects Maine’s headquarters and plant in Zion, Ill., and the firm’s plant in Kalamazoo, Mich. Industry sources said Maine’s other plants closed earlier this year and that Maine’s consulting unit — A Greener Solution LLC — has been sold to recycling firm Casella Waste Systems.

Neither Kaplan nor Robert Render — a former Maine executive who was with A Greener Solution — could be reached for comment. A phone message from company President David Spitulnik simply said that he is no longer with the firm as of March 19.

Sources said that Maine’s primary lender — Cole Taylor Bank of Chicago — put the firm on notice late last year. The bank then called in its loans last week, sources said. Bank officials could not be reached for comment.

Maine was No. 8 on Plastics News’ most recent ranking of North American recyclers and brokers with annual throughput of 178 million pounds in 2012. Officials said in a new PN survey form that the firm’s volume had fallen to 162 million pounds in 2013, a decline of almost 9 percent. Maine did about 90 percent of its business in post-industrial recycling, with the remainder in post-consumer work.

Maine handled all types of commodity and engineering resins, doing grinding, sorting and color separation work. It had served as the official recycler of the NPE trade show every three years since 2000, although that status has been granted to Commercial Plastics Recycling Inc. for the 2015 show.

As of late 2012, Maine operated nine recycling plants in seven different states. Only the plants in Zion and Kalamazoo remain listed on the firm’s web site. Sources said the other plants closed earlier this year.

In a recycling overview published by PN in May 2012, Maine officials said the firm had expanded from three plants in 2007 to be closer to supply sources. “Freight costs have skyrocketed and people want to do business with a nearby location,” Kaplan said at the time. “That has helped those plants tremendously.”

In the same article, Spitulnik said that, in some cases, Maine had taken ownership of the in-plant recycling of its suppliers or set up its own recycling operations in a supplier’s plant.

Maine was founded in the early 1980s, when Render’s father Henry, who ran a scrap metal recycling company in Des Plaines, Ill., had a conversation on a golf course with someone who was recycling plastics, and saw some possibilities. Shortly after, Henry and Robert Render — along with Gene Cohen, a partner in Maine Scrap Metal Inc. — began recycling plastic in North Chicago.

The firm moved to Zion, about 10 miles away, in 2005 after buying a plant there. Kaplan joined Maine as a sales rep in 1989. He later was made a partner and became CEO in 2010.