Backed with a $2 million loan from the government of California, a new recycling firm plans to open a PET and high density polyethylene bottle recycling operation in the Golden State.
Itec Environmental Group Inc. plans to open the facility in January in Riverbank, Calif., using what the company says is a more environmentally friendly cleaning process that can cut costs and let it process a dirtier stream of materials.
The 50,000-square-foot plant will have the capacity to produce 24 million pounds of flake in its first year, said Gary De Laurentiis, president of the Oakdale, Calif., company. It will employ about 40.
The operation will cost $5 million initially, plus another $1.5 million planned in 2006, financed by the $2 million low-interest loan from the California Integrated Waste Management Board and private capital, he said. The company also received an earlier $256,000 grant from the Waste Board to research its system.
While the operation will begin with only recycling, De Laurentiis said he eventually plans to start making a product, possibly film or sheet, from the material.
De Laurentiis, who ran Fixcor Industries Inc.'s HDPE recycling plant in Heath, Ohio, before starting Itec in 2000, said the company will be able to wash the plastic without water, using a ``co-solvent'' and carbon dioxide.
That process will make it much easier to get permits in the state than with traditional water-based cleaning methods, he said.
The process initially was developed and patented by Honeywell Federal Manufacturing and Technologies in Kansas City, Mo., as a way to recycle motor-oil bottles, but Itec has done further research, he said. Used HDPE motor oil bottles are a raw material source that often are too contaminated to produce good-quality plastic.
The company will process mainly PET in Riverbank because that is in more abundant supply and because the company's technology lets it work with PET bottle streams that others reject as too dirty, De Laurentiis said.
Itec plans to seek a nonobjection letter from the Food and Drug Administration to use the material in food-grade applications.
While the company talks about significant plans, it remains very much a fledgling firm.
To date, the publicly traded company has yet to show a profit, and has recorded losses of at least $8.1 million as it has tried to develop and market its process. Itec reported zero sales in the quarter ended June 30, for example, as it waited to start the Riverbank operation.
De Laurentiis said the company also sells recycling equipment and has orders for more than $4 million in equipment in Italy, but is waiting for the Italian government to release funds to its customers so they can buy the machines.
There, the equipment will be part of a government system to collect and recycle used motor oil bottles, he said.