LONG BEACH, CALIF. - Talco Plastics Inc., a major California recycler, will triple the capacity of its Long Beach post-consumer recycling plant by adding a second line later this year. ``We're going to go from a million pounds a month to 3 million pounds a month,'' said Talco President John Shedd.
The equipment, representing a $2 million investment, will be installed and operating by the third quarter, he said.
Talco opened the post-consumer plant in August. Shedd said the plant still is operating at a loss, because of startup costs and higher costs of buying scrap plastic. Shedd is optimistic that the Long Beach operation will be profitable once feedstock pricing stabilizes and Talco adds the new capacity.
California law requires 25 percent post-consumer content in some containers, guaranteeing a market. But pricing remains a problem. Because of the high price of baled post-consumer bottles, Talco must charge a price similar to virgin high density polyethylene for its pelletized post-consumer resin, Shedd said.
Plastics recycling also suffered a high-profile setback recently when Procter & Gamble Co. and Clorox Co. announced that they would reduce the amount of recycled HDPE they use, citing poor availability.
Any thoughts of a shortage are hard to believe when walking through the inventory lot behind Talco's Long Beach plant - a 11/2-acre maze of baled milk and detergent bottles, buckets and some things that defy easy identification.
``There are probably 20 million bottles in the yard right now,'' Shedd said.
The waste plastic comes from haulers and materials recovery facilities in Southern California.
Shedd, an enthusiastic man with an engineering background, bought Talco 10 years ago. The company originally was a trash hauling firm, when its former owners began brokering waste plastic in 1972. Today the company employs 150.
Unlike some recyclers that focus on a few resins, Talco recycles almost every conceivable resin at its headquarters plant in Whittier, Calif. A third plant in El Paso, Texas, grinds plastic and ships it to Whittier and Long Beach. Talco also runs a plant in Corona, Calif., for National Polystyrene Recycling Co. of Bridgeport, N.J.
A tour of the Long Beach plant in February showed how Talco turns post-consumer plastic into pellets. Milk bottles from outside the plant are dumped onto a conveyor that carries them up to an elevated sorting line, where employees remove lids and pick out non-HDPE bottles. The bottles go through a grinder. The ground-up material goes through a washing system and a dryer, then is flaked before being extruded. Pellets end up in gaylords.
Talco grades the HDPE according to degree of whiteness.
For the second line at Long Beach, Shedd said Talco will buy some pieces of equipment and make others. The company does its own system integration.
The Long Beach plant employs 35 now. The new production line will add about 40 jobs.