Recycler Next Specialty Resins Inc. recently installed a new shredding and grinding line to handle high density polyethylene material from the automotive market.
The $500,000 line will handle auto-related HDPE scrap and dunnage, Next Specialty President Rajiv Naik said in a recent phone interview.
The Addison, Mich., firm also spent $300,000 to install six additional grinders in mid-2007 and now has 16 grinders in total. The grinders were needed to handle work in engineering resins, said Naik.
Next Specialty has increased its workforce to 45 from 30 in the past 18 months, mainly by adding a second shift. Naik said the firm also may buy more lab and testing equipment to improve its finished-product testing and certification. There's ample room for expansion in the 250,000-square-foot site occupied by the 12-year-old business.
In 2006, Next Specialty processed 30 million pounds of recycled material, with 80 percent of that amount coming from industrial sources. Nylon and polypropylene are the firm's largest resins by volume. It also handles ABS, polycarbonate, acetal and other materials.
The materials are fed through four extrusion lines, where they're repelletized before being sold to injection molders and other processors.
Though sustainability has been a big industry buzzword recently, Naik said price remains a big factor where material selection is concerned.
``No one calls me up and specifically says that they're looking for recycled-content resin,'' he said. ``They're looking for alternative and equivalent resins that can match performance.''
On average, Next Specialty's recycled resins sell for 15-40 percent less than their standard resin counterparts.
``Everyone's getting squeezed by raw material prices and [original equipment manufacturers] aren't allowing price increases,'' Naik added. ``So people are looking elsewhere for materials.''
Next Specialty did about $17 million in recycling-related sales in 2006, but Naik said sales were flat in 2007 and might be flat this year as well. The firm is part of Naik Group, a collection of recycling, injection molding and mold-making businesses in the U.S. and India owned by Naik and his brother, Saurabh Naik, and their cousin Upen Naik.