One of the world's largest PET resin suppliers is investing in technology to recycle post-consumer bottles in the United States.
M&G Finanziaria Industriale SpA is adding commercial-scale equipment at its plant in Point Pleasant, W.Va.
Melbourne, Australia-based Petrecycle Pty. Ltd. is building a reactor capable of processing more than 22 million pounds of post-consumer PET a year, said Harry Rosen, Petrecycle's director. The equipment is being built in Melbourne and will be shipped to the United States before the end of June.
The reactor will be operating by the end of September, Rosen said in a telephone interview.
Steve Friedmann, investor relations manager with Vital Capital Ltd., which owns 30 percent of Petrecycle, said the deal with M&G is the first in a string of projects. He expects another five to 10 reactors to be operating in the next 12 months.
Friedmann said once testing of the first reactor is finished, the target market for the recycling equipment will be major bottle suppliers that are "under considerable green pressure and good corporate governance" to use recycled materials. He said major suppliers to PepsiCo Inc. and Coca-Cola Co. are candidates.
"At this stage, the majority will be in the U.S., but we are planning to look at the world market. It depends on commercial alliances," he said.
For the first deal, Petrecycle has entered a joint venture with Milan, Italy-based M&G, a unit of Gruppo Mossi & Ghisolfi. The agreement covers the construction, operation and testing of the reactor.
The reactor will use Petrecycle's Renew technology, which the company claims recycles post-consumer PET into virgin-equivalent PET. The technology also allows PET resin manufacturers to blend recycled PET with virgin PET in the specific ratios desired by end users.
"Petrecycle's agreement with M&G will enable PET to be recycled at lower costs than those associated with other technologies," Rosen said.
Friedmann said the Renew technology currently is not in use anywhere in the world.
"The technology has been in development for the past 10-15 years. We gave it a go in Australia some years ago, but there are no PET producers here, so it was not appropriate," he said. "[The reactor] was designed to be part of a PET production line."
Guido Ghisolfi, M&G vice president of operations & development, said M&G entered the agreement to improve its operations.
"One objective is to achieve true bottle-to-bottle recycling in a cost-effective manner, while maintaining quality levels equivalent to [virgin] PET. Our agreement with Petrecycle will allow us to demonstrate that the technology achieves this objective on a commercial scale," Ghisolfi said.
Bottle-to-bottle recycling may be on an upswing, as Coke has pledged to include 10 percent recycled content in about 25 percent of the PET bottles it sells. Some environmental and investor groups are urging Coke to boost its recycling efforts substantially.
M&G is one of the largest PET resin manufacturers, with a 9 percent share of worldwide production capacity. The company supplies PET to more than 40 countries. M&G acquired Shell Chemical Co.'s PET business in June. Before Shell, the PET business was owned by Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.