A major new plastics recovery plant will open later this year in Worksop, England.
The plant will be operated by MBA Polymers Inc. of Richmond, Calif., in a joint venture with European Metal Recycling Ltd. of Warrington, England.
The site mostly will handle automotive shredder residue, which will be processed and reheated before being sorted into separate plastics through MBA's proprietary technology. To date, that technology has proved able to separate polypropylene, polystyrene and ABS from streams of recycled plastic.
The plant will open in August with more than 130 million pounds of annual processing capacity, and will add about 45 million pounds of capacity in the next 18 months, said MBA founder and President Michael Biddle.
The Worksop site is the biggest step so far in a 17-year journey for Biddle and MBA. The firm also operates plants with about 90 million pounds of capacity in Kematen an der Ybbs, Austria, and Guangzhou, China.
We sell a drop-in replacement for virgin resin that's our business model, Biddle said March 10 at the Global Plastics Environmental Conference in Orlando, Fla. GPEC was hosted and organized by the Society of Plastics Engineers of Newtown, Conn.
We close the loop, Biddle added. You can't close the loop with any other material.
MBA's two other plants sold more than 60 million pounds of post-consumer recycled plastic in 2008 and 2009 combined. The 2008 total of 29 million pounds climbed to 33 million in 2009.
Plastic from durable goods is just starting to come back in large volumes, he said. They do it in Europe and Asia, but not in the U.S.
The slow journey of recycling in the U.S. is a bit frustrating for Biddle, since the country generates the most electronic waste in the world more than 21 million pounds per year. Annual auto shredder waste residue in the U.S. also is more than what's created in all of Europe.
One of the issues in the U.S. is that there's no electronic collection infrastructure, Biddle explained. And some that we do gather is sold overseas. The U.S. has more mines of plastic than any other country it's amazing that we don't use it.
Appliance maker Electrolux recently used MBA recycled material in six parts on a new green vacuum cleaner. Biddle said Electrolux started out wanting to use 20 percent recycled material in one part, but ended up using 100 percent recycled content in six parts. Overall, the vacuum cleaner has 55 percent recycled content.
MBA's plants have less than 10 percent of the energy costs of a virgin resin plant, according to Biddle. And MBA's technology not only separates various plastics from each other, it can separate different grades within the same plastic.
For example, in PS, MBA can separate injection, extrusion and flame-retardant grades.
We don't think anyone else in the world can do that, Biddle said.
By 2011, MBA also may be able to separate polycarbonate and PC/ABS from recycled streams as well, he added.
In addition to its three plants, MBA operates a headquarters, research and distribution lab and pilot plant in Richmond.
MBA has been successful in attracting investors. Since 2007, investors in the firm include Citigroup Inc. of New York, Asia West LLC of Greenwich, Conn., and London investment firms Doughty Hanson & Co. and Balderton Capital Management (UK) LLP.
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