Tosca Ltd. plans to put the recycling portion of its Green Bay, Wis.-based business up for sale. The company recycles high density polyethylene and high-molecular-weight HDPE grates, pails, drums and other injection molded products.
Kip Whitlinger, manager of plastic recovery, said Tosca made the decision to sell the business in late March because it has lost about 40 percent of its volume in the past year. Until this year, Tosca had paid transportation costs and collected materials to be recycled. After struggling through last year, hoping the recycling market would go up, the company decided it no longer could afford to absorb the freight costs.
Whitlinger said most of the firm's suppliers are unwilling to absorb delivery costs themselves, and simply throw material away. He said Tosca used to pick up materials from customers in a 500-mile radius. Now it has reduced that radius to 100 miles.
Some larger ink manufacturers, including Sun Chemical Corp. and Borden Chemical Inc. Coating & Graphics Division, are taking ink buckets back from customers and paying to have them delivered to Tosca.
Whitlinger said Tosca was hurt by falling prices for recycled HDPE. Prices for mixed-color post-consumer regrind have fallen to 12-17 cents per pound, from 17-22 cents a year ago, according to Plastics News' resin pricing chart.
He added that the market price would have to go up more than 5 cents for the company to be able to set aside money for pick-up, and he does not anticipate that happening soon.
Whitlinger, a self-described ``impassioned fan of recycling,'' thinks things will get worse before they get better, and said there simply is no way to entice people to recycle in the midst of tough market conditions.
Plastics recycling makes up only about 5-10 percent of Tosca's business. Whitlinger said the other aspects of the business are doing well and have helped support the recycling end of the business. The company reconditions and repairs beer kegs for Anheuser-Busch Inc., cheese boxes for Kraft Foods Inc., produce containers and various other returnable and reusable containers.
Tosca's recycling sales dropped from $1 million in 1997 to about $750,000 in 1998.
The company employs seven and reported a recycling volume of 4.25 million pounds for 1998.