Mountain Valley Recycling LCC is closing its only currently operating plastics recycling plant. Earlier this month, the Boca Raton, Fla.-based recycler announced plans to open a recycling plant in Frankfort, Ky., by the end of the third quarter and have it running at full capacity by year's end.
We anticipate having that whole [Frankfort] project moving forward at full speed within the next two weeks, said CEO Ron Whaley. Over half of the equipment has been ordered and been shipped, and we hope to be installing equipment within 30 days. Our current plan, on a relatively short-term basis, is that we will be up and beyond the capacity at Morristown [Tennessee] within 60 days of opening the plant.
Mountain Valley said it plans to close its 135,000-square-foot recycling operation in Morristown, about 50 miles north of Nashville, by the end of June.
But we are not rushing to shut down Morristown, Whaley said. We may extend its operation beyond then to facilitate a transition so there is no disruption in service to our customers and suppliers. So if we need to run Morristown an extra 30 days, we will.
Whaley said there were two primary reasons the company decided to shutter the Morristown plant, which recycles stretch wrap and hangers from retailers.
There was very limited ability to expand the Morristown operation and it didn't have the size we needed, he said. In addition, the recycling operation was split between two buildings which made it difficult to move material.
The Morristown plant employs 41. Whaley declined to disclose the plant's production level, but a year ago he said it was recycling 50 million pounds of plastic into 40 million pounds of resin.
The planned, $9.5 million plant in Frankfort will have six recycling lines with capacity to reprocess 90 million pounds a year.
Whaley said it initially will have between 50-100 employees and run three recycling lines.
We hope to be at full capacity by the end of the year which would increase the size of the workforce to near 300. Some key equipment from Morristown will be moved to Frankfort later this summer, he said.
Mountain Valley has said it plans to enter the growing market for recycled food-grade resins. Whaley said the firm received letters of non-objection May 11 from the Food and Drug Administration, clearing the way to sell its polystyrene and polypropylene recycled resins for food-contact packaging applications.
With the recent FDA approval of recycled polypropylene and recycled polystyrene resins, we feel confident about our ability to continue our growth plans, he said. We believe our new 220,000-square-foot facility in Kentucky is best-suited for this purpose and will serve as a model for any future expansion.
Mountain has announced expansion plans in the past, but backed away from them. They included plans in 2007 to expand into Canada, and in 2008 to begin plastic hanger recycling in Europe and expand into the southwestern U.S. Those proposed expansions were before Whaley, a former Solo Cup Co. executive, joined the firm 16 months ago.
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