Although not yet operating at full capacity, both PET recycling lines at Clear Path Recycling LLC in Fayetteville, N.C., are now up and running, giving Clear Path a nameplate annual capacity of 160 million pounds at the present time.
We've been operating the second line [which has a capacity of 120 million pounds] since early November, said Ron Salati, vice president of administration and commercial affairs for Clear Path, in a phone interview two days prior to the plant's official ribbon-cutting ceremony Dec. 8.
Both of our wash lines and all of our input lines are running, and we are selling a significant amount of flake to our owners and selling some flake on the outside, he said.
Clear Path is a joint venture of carpet manufacturer Shaw Industries Group Inc. and PET and polyester staple-fiber producer DAK Americas LLC, which supplies Shaw with recycled PET resins for its ClearTouch filament-fiber carpet.
Even though 75 percent of Clear Path's output is targeted for internal use, the plant fills a void in the recycled PET resin market that has existed since Wellman Inc. pulled the plug on its 200 million-pound PET plant in Johnsonville, S.C., four years ago.
The 120 million-pound line is for clear flake and the 40 million-pound line, used initially for clean flake, is for green flake.
Long-range plans for another 120 million-pound line would make the Fayetteville facility the largest PET recycling plant in North America. Construction and installation of a second line would take anywhere from nine to 12 months, Salati said.
Once we've achieved our expected capacity and economic [targets], we will decide sometime next year on the expansion, he said. We've been on budget financially. We have to tweak operations in the first half of next year and get up to speed. 2011 is going to be the year for the plant to prove itself financially.
Unlike many PET recycling plants, Clear Path gets a majority of its PET bottles from materials collected at curbside, rather than deposit programs. The wash line from Sorema and our proprietary technology allows us to do that and have the material come out clean, said Salati. We wash the bottles. We wash the material when we grind the bottles, and we wash the flake.
He said Clear Path was largely purchasing its materials from municipalities and material resource facilities, primarily east of the Mississippi, although it has bought some material in California, on the West Coast and in Canada. Three silos give it the ability to store 650,000 pounds of material on site.
Clear Path will resell the non-PET materials that are separated out of the PET bales, Salati said. We will take the byproducts and cap materials. That is a good material we can sell.
Since the plant opened in mid-July, the workforce has increased from 57 to somewhere in the 80s, which is the size needed to operate the current lines, Salati said. I don't think it's going to grow more until we expand.