Pennsylvania Plastics Processing Co., a Tionesta, Pa., start-up firm, processes bales of high density polyethylene and recycles bumpers from automobiles, shreds from wire strippings and large parts from rotational molding. The company began operation in May with about 10 employees, and plans to add 10-20 more when it goes to 24-hour production. Pennsylvania Plastics is leasing-to-own 58,000 square feet of space in a publicly owned building.
``This area, geographically, was convenient because there is a lot of plastic processing and recycling in the region,'' said President Barry Gibbs.
Although Pennsylvania Plastics has two plastic lumber extrusion lines, they are not operational. The firm grinds HDPE and sells the flake to plastic lumber companies. The flake is mixed with wood fiber.
Pennsylvania Plastics also has a 6-inch extruder that can repelletize 2,000-3,000 pounds an hour. It also has the capacity to compound.
The pellets are sold mainly to plastic lumber companies and to brokers.
Gibbs credits a competitor, Mobil Chemical Co., with opening up the market for plastic lumber, through heavy advertising. Mobil recently sold the unit to a group of division managers.
``People are becoming more aware of the legitimate use for composite lumber for exterior applications,'' he said. ``There's a tremendous future when the reliability becomes understood by the public.
``The plastic lumber industry has to give the customers what they want,'' he said. ``This includes malleability, skid resistance and paintability.''
The firm has the capability to recycle PET, but Gibbs doesn't expect the market to be conducive to recycling for another couple of years.
``In order to develop a market for PET bottles, government regulation is necessary,'' he said. ``It has to be profitable; that's why I'm in business and that's the only way it'll work.
``As time goes on, I think the opportunity to recycle will improve in communities and nationally.''