ORLANDO, FLA. — When P&E Inc. began using post-consumer plastic in its manufacturing process a few years ago, the primary reason was it was a potentially inexpensive feedstock.
But the Orlando-based firm has reaped additional benefits by using recycled high density polyethylene in its many products, particularly curbside recycling bins, said R. Scott Hawley, P&E's director of marketing.
``It's been a good partnership for us in working with municipalities,'' Hawley said. ``We can say your material has gone into this recycling bin.
``It really helps make us a part and partner with the industry in the state and the area,'' he said.
Piper Industries of Texas Inc. and Erie Crate and Manufacturing Inc., both owned by Dallas-based Alpha Holdings Inc., merged their two operations to form P&E in 1995. The two companies, whose respective histories date back to the first half of the century, each had plants in Orlando and had been competitors.
As P&E, the plastics recycler and manufacturer today is one of the nation's largest suppliers of transportation and distribution products for food industries, with such items as injection molded dairy crates and thermoformed bakery containers. The company expects 1997 sales to exceed $75 million, Hawley said.
P&E operates its main 100,000-square-foot recycling and manufacturing facility in Orlando, in addition to plants in Dallas; Dayton, N.J.; St. Louis; City of Industry, Calif.; Erie, Pa.; and Worcester, Mass. P&E's seven plants employ roughly 350, with about 50 of those workers in Orlando, said Terry Anderson, P&E division manager.
The company pulls baled curbside HDPE mostly from throughout Florida and other Southeastern states. The firm grinds, washes and repelletizes the material, blending it with virgin resin and coloring it according to customer specifications.
P&E uses injection molding, extrusion and thermoforming processes, to manufacture its end products. The firm recycles all of its own scrap plastic and also has a program to recover broken or unusable plastic products from its customers to be recycled.
Some of P&E's products contain nearly 100 percent post-consumer recycled plastic, and the firm aims to have most of its products contain a minimum of 25 percent post-consumer content, Hawley said.
``We've done some testing and ongoing evaluation to be able to increase that,'' he said.