SPRINGFIELD, MASS. — With a family recycling heritage that dates back to 1898, Northstar Pulp & Paper Co. Inc. is adjusting to modern times. But to call the firm a paper company is a misnomer.
The company is ramping up its efforts to recycle plastics.
“We offer a one-stop shop that processes all the waste paper, post-industrial plastics, polyurethane foam, non-ferrous metals and even rubbish,” said Aaron Goodman, chief operating officer of Springfield-based Northstar, during a recent visit.
His great-great grandfather, Hyman Goodman, actually started the family business pulling a cart to collect scrap metals. Now, it still is a family enterprise — his father David is the CEO; and his sister, Lori Goodman is the president.
Aaron Goodman said that the operation has changed drastically over the years, but still remains a customer-service-oriented endeavor. They’ve been collecting various plastics for about 15 years, but in the last year or so have taken the steps to process the material. They added a second Cumberland granulator and a conveying system at the end of 2013.
Now, about 40,000 square feet of its 300,000-square-foot complex is used to process plastics. It has a shredder and two granulators. The growing plastics division has added six more employees including a salesman during the last year.
He said there were two key reasons for increasing its plastics recovery system. First, it was a chance for vertical integration, and second, it helps to diversify and get more into plastics.
Part of the reason is also economics. Goodman said that the profit margin for paper was really pocket change per ton, while plastics brought in dollars per ton.
He said the plastics operation is running 16 hours a day and looking to hire a person to expand it to 24 hours.
“Obviously, we have so much material that they can’t run it fast enough,” said Goodman,
He said that the company service starts locally with the western Massachusetts area, but does extend out throughout the Northeast He estimated it runs 150,000 tons of paper and plastics a year, but did not want to break it out any further.
The service all depends on the customer.
“The first thing we do is look at the processes they do and then we look at the dumpsters and see what is being thrown away. We see what has added value,” he said.
Once they understand a business, they put together a plan to recycle what is not being used for production. He said that the waste stream ranges from office paper to corrugated paper to all sorts of plastics packaging. Even the trim from plastic products can be recycled.
Goodman said that they specialize in all types of polyethylene, polypropylene and PET, including PE scrap from injection molding and extrusion, injection grade and nonwoven PP, and PET bottles. Toss in the laminated, corrugated or white paper and they handle all sorts of things.
“Essentially, everything that comes from a supplier,” he said.