Rising transportation costs and the failure of its recycling venture in Trinidad have pushed Commercial Plastics Recycling Inc. into a new game plan that includes a fourth plant in the United States, in Newton, N.C., and the addition of a repelletizing line at its plant in Millwood, W. Va.
The 67,500-square-foot plant in Newton began operations three months ago with grinding and shredding capabilities to handle ``just about everything,'' said Ben Benvenuti, president of the Tampa, Fla.-based company that he and his wife started 10 years ago.
``It is the largest facility we own,'' he said in an interview at NPE 2006 in Chicago. The $10 million company recycles about 60 million pounds of plastics annually, much of which is PET, PVC and ABS.
Benvenuti also said the company is closing its 8,000-square-foot facility in Pelad, Trinidad, after just a little more than a year, because it didn't get the help the government promised in obtaining materials for recycling.
``We went to Trinidad with a lot of promises from the government. But we have gotten little assistance.''
The addition of the Newton plant - near medical, furniture and appliance manufacturers, and centrally located on the Eastern seaboard - was mostly in response to the rising cost for freight. ``It's been astronomical,'' Benvenuti said. ``Having an additional facility will cut down on our freight costs.''
Benvenuti said the repelletizing line at its 50,000-square-foot recycling plant in West Virginia just began running and will help CPR get better prices for its resins.
``Our ultimate goal is to get to solid-stating of PET resins,'' he said.
Although Benvenuti expects this year to be CPR's most profitable, he said it has been a struggle to get the material he needs to keep his facilities running. He said the movement of processing to China has been one of the problems.
``The Americans have all gone and outsourced to China,'' he said. ``So if all the molding is going there, all the scrap is going there.''
Benvenuti said the shortage of scrap has forced CPR to go after products it normally wouldn't consider recycling, such as underground utility pipe, considered too dirty to handle in the past.
He also said his people look for materials and products ``that can't be shipped somewhere easily,'' such as vinyl siding, PVC profiles and PVC fencing.
``There is the same amount of brokers out there, and all of us plastic recyclers are trying to divide up an ever-shrinking pie'' of material.