Mountain Valley Recycling LLC has received the go-ahead from the Food and Drug Administration to sell its polystyrene and polypropylene recycled resins for food-contact applications.
The Boca Raton, Fla., plastics recycler and resin manufacturer also said that it plans to open a second recycling plant in Frankfort, Ky., by the end of the third quarter and have it running at full capacity by the end of the year.
We hope to finalize things with state and local authorities by the end of the month, said CEO Ron Whaley in a June 1 phone interview. He said the company plans to lease a former, currently vacant automotive industry plant in the city.
The FDA letter of non-objection was issued in mid-May, he said.
Whaley said the 220,000-square-foot recycling plant in Frankfort will have six recycling lines and the capacity to reprocess 90 million pounds annually. He said the plant will recycle post-consumer PS, PP and polyethylene, getting its raw materials from retailers and material-recovery facilities. Each line will have wash and sort lines, grinders and extruders to turn the recycled resin into pellets.
A good portion of the equipment is on order, Whaley said. After we finalize things with government authorities, our plan is to have the equipment installed, have the plant up and running in 90 days, and ramp up to full capacity by the end of the year.
He said the company will invest $9.5 million in the facility, which will employ approximately 300 employees when it is at full capacity.
We are also getting some help from state and local authorities for training and workforce development, Whaley said.
In addition, Frankfort city commissioners and the Capital Community Economic/Industrial Development Authority in Frankfort are applying to the state for a $1 million community development block grant to be used to help Mountain Valley purchase the equipment. The funds are issued by the state, but come from the federal government.
Mountain Valley currently has a 135,000-square-foot plastics recycling plant with two recycling lines in Morristown, Tenn., about 50 miles north of Nashville. Whaley did not disclose current recycled resin production at the Morristown plant. But a year ago, he said the first line in the plant was recycling 50 million pounds of plastic into 40 million pounds of resin.
That plant added a second line in the second half of 2009, but not to the extent Whaley envisioned a year ago. We slowed down on that, he said. We decided the Morristown plant wasn't ideal for expansion.
Mountain Valley has announced expansion plans in the past, but backed away from them. The recycler pulled back on plans to expand into Canada in 2007, and to begin a plastic hanger recycling project in Europe, as well as expand into the southwestern United States, in 2008. All of those proposed expansions were before Whaley, a former Solo Cup Co. executive, joined the company 15 months ago.
Whaley expects the Frankfort plant to be a model for future growth for us. It is the first plant we will have designed and laid out from the ground up. We will be able to take advantage of lean manufacturing techniques and be able to decrease the carbon footprint of our resins and our processes.
There is a greater focus on sustainability than I have ever seen, Whaley said. I believe that if there are two products on the shelf for a comparable price that have comparable performance, and one is green and one is not, the consumer will choose the more sustainable one.
Investment firm Laser Partners GP LLC, also in Boca Raton, has been the majority owner in Mountain Valley since last fall. Eric Weisman, co-founder and managing partner in Laser Partners, is chairman of Mountain Valley's sister company, NextLife Solutions, also headquartered in Boca Raton.
NextLife works with manufacturing partners such as Cascade Engineering and Dell Computer to create products such as ink cartridges, industrial pallets and aesthetic rain barrel products from recycled resins.
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