WASHINGTON — A pilot project aimed at jump-starting the PVC recycling market began this month in New Jersey, but its sponsors say it will be at least two months before the results are in.
The program's success hinges on whether an undisclosed floor tile maker economically can use recycled PVC resin shipped from East Coast Recycling Associates Inc. in Vineland, N.J.
The Morristown, N.J, Vinyl Institute is paying for transporting the resin and some testing costs.
The Washington-based Association of Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers labeled PVC a recycling contaminant in April, saying that minuscule amounts of PVC can ruin loads of recycled PET and high density polyethylene.
``This is going to be the trial that establishes what the economics are,'' said Mark Sofman, manager of industry affairs with VI. ``We have some good estimates. We think a longer-term trial will bear out our estimates.''
VI is lining up 500,000 pounds of PVC for a six- to eight-week trial, and could use 1 million pounds, he said. The trial began Aug. 17.
If it is economical, the flooring company could take 8 million to 10 million pounds a year of post-consumer PVC, said George Glenn, president of East Coast. But the parties involved want to take a cautious approach for now.
Once the trial is over and the market analysis is done, VI funding will stop and the firms involved will decide if the program makes financial sense, Sofman said.
Glenn said he did not know how much the flooring maker is willing to pay for the material, and said the project will be ``battling against the post-industrial feed stream'' to supply material.
For now, VI is paying to ship PVC that is sitting in storage at recyclers' facilities, Sofman said.
``We recognize APR's concerns. We are working on a business solution,'' he said.
Recyclers said the market for recycled PVC dried up less than two years ago when Occidental Chemical Corp. stopped subsidizing a program to buy back PVC bottles. PVC is a small part of the plastic bottle market, but its recycling rate fell to 0.1 percent in 1997, from 2 percent in 1996, according to Washington-based APR figures released Aug. 18.
APR has asked VI and several other trade groups to help fund a study of the costs of removing PVC from the PET and HDPE recycling streams.
APR spokesman Gary Pratt, president of P&R Environmental Industries Inc. in Youngsville, N.C., said his firm spent almost $1 million at one of its plants on equipment to remove PVC. Sofman said VI was not interested in funding that study.
Pratt said APR also asked the American Plastics Council and the National Association for PET Container Resources for funding. APC declined, and NAPCOR is reviewing the request, he said.