Plastics recycler Envision Plastics Industries LLC has moved into full-scale production of its EcoPrime-brand food-grade high density polyethylene recycled resin at its plant in Reidsville, N.C., and plans to double capacity by adding another 18 million pounds later this year at its plant in Chino, Calif.
EcoPrime is the only recycled HDPE in the U.S. that has been cleared by the Food and Drug Administration for use in food and beverage packaging. It is currently being used in packaging for nutritional supplements, food-storage containers, beverages and some personal-care products.
Now that full production scale has been achieved, we will produce up to 18 million pounds of EcoPrime at the Reidsville plant in 2011, said Scott Booth, chief operating officer.
Envision has had the technology to produce EcoPrime for more than a decade, but only recently has demand from consumer products companies started to increase, said Tamsin Ettefagh, vice president of sales.
The growing emphasis on sustainability and environmental responsibility has motivated many companies to look at using recycled resins in applications where they would not have before areas such as food and beverage packaging, Ettefagh said.
There has been tremendous attention, testing and all positive results. The large consumer product goods companies all seem interested in sustainability and this is a way to get them there.
According to a life-cycle inventory analysis published in April by consulting group Franklin Associates of Prairie Village, Kan., there is a 67 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from the use of recycled HDPE compared to virgin resin.
At the same time companies are moving cautiously and slowly, Ettefagh said, because of the planned revision of the Federal Trade Commission guidelines that govern greenwashing or false claims relative to the marketing of green products.
The new guidelines are expected to be issued early this year as the comment period closed Dec. 10. It would be the first revision to the guidelines since 1998.
The whole FTC greenwashing [initiative] has raised a lot of eyebrows so marketing folks are looking at what is the best path forward, Ettefagh said. They are exploring all their options.
But Envision has no doubts that EcoPrime will make strong inroads in the market for recycled good-grade resins.
EcoPrime will make food and beverage packaging more environmentally friendly while helping us keep bottles out of landfills, Booth said.
Envision recycles roughly 110 million pounds of plastics annually. It uses a patented cleaning process to make its food-grade recycled resin from natural-color HDPE containers such as milk and water bottles collected curbside.
Ettefagh said Envision moved into full production of EcoPrime last fall after debugging the production process over the summer to boost annual capacity from 12 million to 18 million pounds.