Plastic drum maker Russell-Stanley Holdings Inc. believes it can find the secret to new commercial success in its old products.
The company has started a recycling operation at its plant in Simpsonville, S.C., where many of its discarded drums are turned into recycled-content containers.
Russell-Stanley, which claims to be the largest U.S. plastic drum maker, hopes the program will help it protect market share and appeal to firms that want a greener alternative for their storage.
``We think that to have Russell-Stanley make your container and recycle your container, there is value for large [original equipment manufacturers] to protect themselves from downstream liability,'' marketing director Kathryn Copelin said at Pack Expo International, held Nov. 3-7 in Chicago.
The company added wash lines and blow molding machines at Simpsonville for the product rollout six months ago. Officials declined to provide specifics on the investment, but said the recycled-content drums will remain a small part of its product mix, probably about 5 percent.
The firm also blow molds the containers, called its Infinity series, at plants in Atlanta; Reserve, La.; The Woodlands, Texas; and Bramalea, Ontario.
Before the recent investments, the firm had been recycling the containers but selling the high-molecular-weight, high density polyethylene resin on the open market. Now, it has invested in equipment to clean the recycled resin before blow molding it.
Russell-Stanley officials estimate they will use about 5 million pounds of resin a year to make the Infinity drums.
Copelin said the firm thinks the recycled-content drums can take market share from reconditioned drums, which are cleaned and reused. The recycled drums are more expensive than reconditioned, but Russell-Stanley will exercise strict quality control by not recycling containers that held certain materials, like vinegar.
The company is targeting the textile, automotive and oil industries for the new drums, but will not sell them into food applications, she said.