In seeking to bolster beverage container recycling, a California agency has awarded grants to Plastic Recycling Corp. of California and Talco Plastics Inc.
Unredeemed refunds from California deposits fund the Department of Conservation's effort to increase the recycling rate for plastic, aluminum and glass beverage containers.
Under a new program, the department's recycling division awarded $10 million for 12 market development and expansion grants. Those included the largest grant - more than $4.9 million - to PRCC of Sonoma, Calif., and nearly $886,000 for use at Talco's Long Beach, Calif., plant.
``These projects address the barriers to increased recycling and related jobs,'' Darryl Young, department director, said in a statement.
In a major undertaking, PRCC proposes direct conversion of post-consumer recycled clear and green PET into pellets for 10 percent use in the molding of new bottles. Formed in 1987, PRCC represents soft drink companies and PET bottle makers.
Technology for the comprehensive PET recycling system stems from a state-of-the-art plant that Amcor PET Packaging expanded in Beaune, France, in 2002. Previero N. srl's Sorema division of Alzate Brianza, Italy; Buhler AG of Uzwil, Switzerland; and Pellenc SA of Pertuis, France, supplied equipment for the Amcor Ltd. unit.
PRCC's aggressive effort faces hurdles.
The private nonprofit organization needs another $30 million for facility construction, equipment purchases and working capital, said Patricia Moore, PRCC executive director. The state agency's pending grant represents 51 percent of the group's $9.6 million request to the state.
``This effort is part of a long-term strategic goal of the PRCC to establish a domestic PET recycling market in California,'' said Floyd Flexon, chairman of PRCC and global vice president for environmental affairs and recycling in Ann Arbor, Mich., for Amcor PET Packaging.
The project would reduce the West Coast's reliance on the Asian export market ``and the high cost of transportation across the Rockies to the traditional U.S. recycling market,'' Flexon said.
PRCC aims to take California beverage containers and convert them back into food-grade pellets for use in an environment-sensitive operation within the state.
The organization wants to establish ``a cooperative facility between competing companies,'' Moore said. ``We have not done that before.''
PRCC aims to identify and build the plant on a California location with public-authority-controlled electricity and reasonable access and water rates.
Three regions in the running include Riverside and the Los Angeles Harbor/Wilmington Industrial Park Redevelopment Project in Southern California and Lodi in the northern part of the state.
PRCC purchased and sold more than 105.9 million pounds of PET during 2003, up from 88.5 million pounds in the previous year.
Management service Moore Recycling Associates Inc. has handled PRCC's day-to-day business operations since 1994.
Talco eyes equipment
Talco Plastics intends to acquire additional equipment to grind, wash and extrude high density polyethylene containers for use within an existing 40,000-square-foot plant on three acres in Long Beach.
Quickly pulling together a grant proposal was ``quite an experience,'' said William O'Grady, Talco vice president and general manager.
``We anticipate [the grant] will allow us to expand our post-consumer processing capabilities by 25-30 percent,'' he said.
Talco has space in Long Beach to add machines, although it is pushing the current equipment's annual nameplate capacity of 22 million pounds. About 75 percent comes from milk, water and juice containers and the remainder from household detergent containers.
O'Grady said he anticipates an initial capacity increase of 3 million pounds and total potential up to 6 million pounds.
When fully implemented by mid-2005, the expanded operation might require an additional 12-15 production and auxiliary material handlers. The plant employs 30 now.
Talco seeks to reduce its processing costs to compete better with virgin HDPE and provide feedstock for outside customers and, potentially, vertically integrated manufacturing of home and garden products. Stan Kezar served as project manager for the Talco proposal.
Talco was awarded the full amount of its proposal, said Mark Oldfield, a Department of Conservation spokesman.
Corona, Calif.-based Talco employs 150, had 2003 sales of $22 million and, within California, has specialized ancillary activities in Pomona and Paramount in addition to operations in Corona and Long Beach.