Erema North America Inc. CEO Tim Hanrahan said he expects a sales increase of 25-30 percent in 2012, on the heels of a 40-50 percent sales increase in 2011.
“Our business is way up,” said Hanrahan of the Ipswich-Mass.-based distributor, spare parts and service arm of recycling equipment maker Erema Engineering Recycling Maschinen und Anlagen GmbH.
“The green movement is strong. The interest in recycling continues to grow. We expect to continue to grow.”
Indeed, the growth of Erema in the U.S. even outstripped the 40 percent year-over-year growth in the fiscal year that ended March 31 for its Ansfelden, Austria-based parent, which reported record sales of 115 million euros ($153 million using the March 31 exchange rate).
Erema Austria said it produced 200 recycling systems and 100 individual components, such as screen changers and pelletizers, in the just-completed fiscal year.
“We have been busy at the show with a steady flow of customers all week,” virtually all of them upbeat, said Hanrahan in an interview at NPE2012 in Orlando. “If everyone in the United States was in the plastics machinery business, the economy wouldn't be in a slump. It's almost like we're operating in a bubble.”
He said that in the first three days of the show, held April 1-5, the company already had sold two machines, and expected to sell two more that day.
The 400 Erema systems installed in North America produce more than 1 billion pounds of recycled resin annually, the company said.
Its largest — and most expensive piece of recycling equipment, the $1 million Erema TVEplus extruder system — was on display for the first time in the U.S, showing improvements made about a year ago, said Hanrahan.
“We already have a few of them sold and operating in the U.S,” he said. Among the customers: recyclers Rainier Plastics Inc. in Yakima, Wash., and Jadcore Inc. in Terre Haute, Ind., which bought the model on display at the show.
The TVEplus — aimed at recyclers of polyolefins and polyethylene — has a new horizontal centrifugal dryer. In addition, the screen changer was moved closer to the feeder, which enabled Erema to put a mixer section between the screen changer and the vent section.
“That significantly improves the de-gassing efficiency,” he said.
That high-performance degassing, in combination with thorough melt homogenization, permits users to achieve ultrafine filtration, according to Erema. Up to 12 percent residual moisture can be processed with consistently high output because of the system's patented Double Disc technology.
The TVEplus technology sets new standards when recycling severely contaminated post-consumer waste and heavily printed and laminated film packaging in-house, said Hanrahan.
“The TVEplus is primarily aimed at heavily inked material or any material, such as foamed material, that would create gas when melted,” he said.
An example of heavily inked material is the Zip-Loc bag made by S.C. Johnson & Son Inc. and similar products. ‘This is the type of material that has to be recycled and that wasn't even on the retail shelves 10-12 years ago,” Hanrahan said.
“Because everyone [who makes heavily inked film] now has their own recycling machine in-house, the material that plastics recyclers are getting is dirtier and gassier. They are bottom-feeding to get materials to recycle, compared to 10-12 years ago,” he said.
“In the old days, they were able to get clean film scrap.”
Hanrahan said he believes the future for recycling, and recycling equipment, will only be brighter in years to come.
“There are some materials that are just starting to be recycled, and the biggest upside will be polyester, particularly PET, for which Erema sells its Vacurema recycling system,” he said. More than 140 such systems are in use worldwide.
Erema Austria said that around 1 million tons of PET flakes are recycled in Europe every year — more than a third using Vacurema. In 2011 alone, four large-scale Vacurema Prime systems were supplied to the U.S., he said.