U.S. electronics and durable goods recycler MBA Polymers Inc. has opened a plant in China - its first commercial-scale plant in the world - in a $12 million joint venture with a local steel maker.
Richmond, Calif.-based MBA Polymers held an opening ceremony Nov. 18 at the Guangzhou plant, and said it plans to ramp up production at the 88 million-pound-per-year facility during the next year.
Using more than $30 million in private and U.S. government investment, the company has developed technology to recycle high volumes of plastic from products like computers, cell phones and refrigerators. The company has a much smaller facility in the United States, but is making its first significant investment in China because the market is growing.
``It's a booming market,'' said President Richard McCombs. ``It's attractive from a cost point of view and a growth point of view.''
As well, the company is trying to tap into interest around the world - including in Japan and other Asian countries - in legislation mandating the collection and recycling of electronics and other consumer products. McCombs said China does not have such laws, but the government is showing more interest.
MBA is importing materials from Japan, Europe and the United States because it can't get enough materials and in the right mix from domestic Chinese sources, he said.
The plant could generate $15 million in sales when it reaches full production, probably in the third quarter of 2006, McCombs said. The company recycles polypropylene, ABS and high-impact polystyrene.
The venture is 55 percent owned by MBA and 45 percent by Guangzhou Iron and Steel Enterprises Holdings Ltd., a large steel maker in southern China. GISE provides financing and help with things like local construction and dealing with the government, McCombs said.
The joint venture, called GISE-MBA New Plastics Technology Co. Ltd., spends between $200 and $300 a ton for material, and sells it for between $800 and $1,000, he said.
MBA is using the same technology in a plant it is building in Austria, its second commercial-scale facility. The company's largest investors have been contract manufacturer Flextronics International Ltd., GE Plastics and Asia West, an investment fund that targets environmentally friendly technology.
The plant is in Guangzhou's Nansha Development Zone, near plants for Toyota, Honda, BASF and GE Plastics.