Recycling firm Polyflow Corp. has reached verbal agreements with a nearby city and college to supply plastic waste that Polyflow can convert into industrial chemicals.
Akron, Ohio-based Polyflow is working with officials in Stow, an Akron suburb, to secure Stow's collected plastic waste. Polyflow also is partnering with Hiram College, a small private liberal arts college in rural Hiram, Ohio.
We want to work with Polyflow because it's helping the environment, Stow Mayor Karen Fritschel said by phone Aug. 24.
She added that the city's economy would be helped if Polyflow locates a processing site and corporate office there.
Currently, trash haulers in Stow separate PET and high density polyethylene bottles, but all other plastic waste generated by the city is taken to a landfill, Fritschel said.
Polyflow CEO Joseph Hensel said in a recent telephone interview that local officials have agreed to transport Hiram College's plastic waste to a Polyflow site. The company has narrowed its site selection to four properties in northeastern Ohio, Hensel said.
The agreements are steps in the right direction for Polyflow, he said: The firm has been working to commercialize its technology since 2005, and needs to secure financing for its first commercial plant, which is likely to cost about $10 million.
Polyflow raised almost $1 million from angel investors [affluent individuals who provided capital for the business start-up] in 2008 but during this year's economic downturn, the firm has generated less than $500,000 in investments, Hensel said.
The technology used by Polyflow was developed in the late 1970s by Charles Grispin, an Akron-area inventor who now serves as Polyflow's chief spokesman.
In the process, scrap is placed into a tank and cooked at nearly 1,000° F until vaporized. The vapor is then condensed; the resulting liquid contains aromatic chemicals including styrene and benzene.
Only 6 percent of the waste items used by Polyflow currently are recycled, according to Hensel. The remaining 94 percent otherwise would end up in landfills.
Since scrap used in the Polyflow process is melted down, contamination is not a factor, the company claims.
Items processed at the firm's pilot plant in Akron include carpet, tires, children's toys, leftover plastic compounds and polystyrene foam. Chemicals refined from the slurry liquid can be reused by petrochemical firms or used in paints, coatings, solvents or other products.
Polyflow recently made its first sale of chemicals made by its process, delivering 5 tons of material to petrochemicals supplier Bulk Trading & Transport Co. of Cleveland. Hensel said the sale was made at a unit price higher than that of crude oil.
The shipment consisted of material that Polyflow produced during more than 40 test runs and exhibits of its process during the last year.
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