A new company in Texas is building a factory to make railroad ties from recycled plastic, using proprietary technology.
Integrico LLC in Temple, Texas, will enter what company officials said is a crowded market - but Integrico will be armed with technology it acquired that allows it to use a broader mix of recycled plastic, including cross-linked polyethylene.
The company has invested more than $10 million thus far - that figure includes buying the technology and research - and plans to open the factory with one production line by April, said Mike Miller, chief executive officer. Miller declined to describe the technology or disclose where Integrico acquired it.
The Temple factory will have room for six extrusion lines, each capable of making about 100,000 ties per year, he said. The company plans to have 150 employees in a year, and 300 in three years.
There's a strong market for plastic railroad ties in the Gulf Coast region, where moisture hastens the rotting of wood ties, he said.
``The reason we are interested in the marketplace is the level of need by the Class One railroads is extremely high,'' Miller said. ``They are looking for a product that meets the railroads' standards and a product that is cost-effective. Those are not particularly easy standards to meet.''
Between 1.5 million and 2 million railroad ties need to be replaced each year in the Gulf region, Miller said. While several competitors have entered the market before Integrico, it claims it will be the largest manufacturer of products from recycled plastic in the world by 2010. The company currently sources scrap and post-consumer materials.
``From a cost standpoint, our technology allows us to use some plastics other people can't use and mix them together,'' he said.
The company plans to make some undisclosed products, mainly for industrial applications that require a lot of structural strength, Miller said. Integrico established a facility in Ogden, Utah, for its research and development but wanted to establish manufacturing closer to the market, he said.
Miller said Integrico is being started by a team of former executives, including himself, from Simula Inc., a Phoenix-based defense and personal protective-device manufacturer that was split into several parts and sold in 2003.