After a successful pilot project, Phoenix Technologies International LLC is investing $2.8 million in its Bowling Green, Ohio, plant to produce an additional 10 million pounds of food-grade recycled PET pellets a year, starting in mid-January.
That expansion will boost annual PET recycling capacity at the 120,000-square-foot plant to 90 million pounds. The new line will make the company's second-generation food-grade pellet, which Phoenix has dubbed LNO.
The Food and Drug Administration gave the company a letter of nonobjection for the material two months ago.
``It is a game-changing technology in the recycling business because it improves the quality and yield of the product, and it reduces the carbon footprint, energy requirements and total manufacturing costs,'' Phoenix Presi- dent Robert Deardurff said in a Sept. 25 telephone interview. ``We will be able to convert a flake into a pellet without going through an extrusion process.''
The proprietary technology for the new reprocessing line was developed in conjunction with its parent company, Plastic Technologies Inc. It includes a patented process for how the pellets are made, as well as a way to reduce the decontamination time from four hours to less than one. The process compacts a fine- grind powder into pellets that offer exceptionally low levels of acetaldehyde, sometimes even below that of virgin resins.
Phoenix is the manufacturing arm of Holland, Ohio-based Plastics Technologies.
The technology, along with its small physical footprint, also will enable Phoenix to cut transportation costs by allowing it to recycle locally with smaller plants strategically located near sources of supply, Deardurff said.
``This technology provides a solution to the specific need for a smaller-volume plant that can be economically viable,'' Deardurff said. ``The continued increase in the cost of transportation has become a major cost to recyclers. This gives us the capacity to collect material locally, convert materially locally and consume it locally.''
Deardurff said Phoenix is ``actively working'' to license the technology, predominantly internationally. He also said Phoenix hopes to develop partnerships, and possibly joint ventures, with companies in Canada and the United States for use of the recycling technology.
``We plan to be involved in the manufacturing,'' in those alliances, he said.
Deardurff said the technology can improve yields by more than 10 percent, cut energy use by 25 percent or more and reduce operating costs by at least 15 percent.
Phoenix will continue to get most of its material from curbside collections, as it has in the past, as the process enables the firm to use ``a whole range of PET packaging, including both non-food and food containers'' to make its LNO resins, he said.
``There is continued and growing demand for recycled resins,'' Deardurff said. ``We need to find economic solutions that work and this is part of that. This will give us a competitive advantage in lower costs and higher yields.''
Deardurff said the new food-grade line would reach full capacity roughly three weeks after it begins to run. The company is adding seven workers because of the expansion, bringing its workforce to 78, he said. The plant makes food-grade and nonfood-grade recycled PET resins.