Wellman Engineering Resins restarted its PET bottle recycling plant in Johnsonville, S.C., in late 2009.
Johnsonville-based Wellman ER also late last year won a key automotive application with Dana Holding Corp., using its post-consumer recycled nylon in cylinder-head covers on the 2010 Fusion and Escape vehicles for Ford Motor Co. The parts are the first made using that type of material anywhere in the auto market, Wellman ER officials said.
The bottle recycling plant had been dormant since 2006, when it was shut down by Wellman Inc. Wellman then sold the Johnsonville site to private equity firm J.H. Whitney & Co. in late 2008.
When fully operational, the site will be able to process almost 200 million pounds of bottles annually.
Reopening the plant and other growth initiatives are expected to add 80-100 jobs in Johnsonville in the next two to three years, according to Bill Fotsch, Wellman ER's vice president of sales and marketing.
Wellman ER also added three new sales representatives in late 2009 and plans to fill additional sales and engineering positions.
The company's sales grew substantially between the first and second half of 2009, Fotsch said. He did not provide details.
Sales were boosted by the addition of post-consumer polypropylene and by additional auto work, including use of Wellman ER's Ecolon-brand post-consumer nylon in air-intake manifolds sold in the aftermarket for use on vehicles made by Toyota Motor Corp. and Chrysler Group.
Wellman ER operates a total of 70 million pounds of recycled resin capacity in Johnsonville. The firm has worked to position itself as a lower-cost alternative to prime resins, which are more subject to fluctuations in the price of oil and other feedstocks.
Every time the price of oil goes up, it helps our products, Fotsch said.
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