Film extruder and recycler Petoskey Plastics has invested $3 million to grow its recycling plant in Hartford City, Ind. — part of an overall $9 million investment at the firm's three locations.
New equipment purchased for the Hartford City site will increase its annual recycling capacity by 12 million pounds — a 50 percent jump from its previous capability, according to officials with the Petoskey, Mich.-based firm.
New wash lines, pelletizers and grinders were among the equipment purchased. The project is expected to add 15-20 jobs by the end of the year.
GreenPE-brand recycled resins made at the site will be used to make blown plastic film and bag products at Petoskey's own plants in Petoskey and in Morristown, Tenn. Some material also will be sold to outside firms.
“Our growth is coming from increased interest in sustainable products,” President and co-founder Paul Keiswetter said in a Sept. 1 phone interview. “Our move into retail trash bags and other new products is going quite well.”
That move came about as a result of the automotive downturn of 2008, which decreased the amount of work Petoskey had been doing in auto seat covers.
The Morristown plant received a new three-layer film and bag line last month. A similar line will be installed at the Michigan site by the end of the year. Ten production jobs will be added in Morristown by the end of the year, with another four or five sales and marketing positions being added in Petoskey.
Adding equipment at the 300,000-square-foot Hartford City site will allow Petoskey to divert an additional 1.5 million pounds of post-consumer plastic from the waste stream each month, officials added.
Petoskey also has closed-loop recycling systems in place with a dozen customers and has several more in the works. The systems allow the company to collect bags and recycle them into new bags.
“I'm really excited about our environmental positioning,” Keiswetter said.
Petoskey was founded in 1970 and has been recycling in Hartford City, just north of Indianapolis, since 1978. Earlier this year, the firm installed a meteorological tower in Hartford City to evaluate the possibility of using wind power there. The tower was funded by a grant from the Rural Energy for America Program.
The sprawling Hartford City location makes Keiswetter think back to the days when the company operated at a site in Petoskey that was so small that employees had to move their cars when trucks delivered shipments.
“I've been aware of the importance of space for a long time,” he said with a laugh.