Erie, Pa.-based EPI Recycling Solutions LLC has begun pellet production at its industrial plastics recycling plant in Sanford, N.C.
The pellets are being made with an S:Gran 125 recycling machine that can reprocess 1,500 pounds of material per hour, increasing the plant's capacity to 1 million pounds per month.
The 30,000-square-foot plant in Sanford is the first recycling plant for EPI outside of its headquarters. The new facility represents an investment of more than $1.1 million, said President Kurt Duska, who also is president of contract injection molder Engineered Plastics LLC. Engineered Plastics' molding plant is in Lake City, Pa.
The Sanford site opened in April with a single granulator and baler. The new facility was needed to handle national customers, “increase our customer base, and to offer service to multiple locations,” Duska said in an interview.
“Recycling facilities are typically limited due to incoming freight cost. Our model is a 300-mile radius for incoming material, and the Sanford facility is 600 miles from our primary facility in Erie,” Duska said.
“Opening a facility in Sanford [gave us] the capability to handle large sections of the country, [as the] North Carolina area has many customers that are looking for our capabilities and recycling concepts.
The S:Gran shredder/densifier/pelletizer, made by Feldkirchen, Austria-based Next Generation Recyclingmaschinen GmbH, can process multiple materials in various forms, he said.
“We need to be able to process everything from 150-pound ABS purges to polystyrene and polyethylene foam, and molding scrap to thermoform trays,” he added.
Duska said he expects the NGR shredder to be operating on three shifts in January. The Erie plant already operates around the clock.
The expansion represents “a long-term investment in North Carolina,” Duska said.
EPI focuses on post-industrial plastics, mostly packaging and process scrap. The company handles flexible films on rolls and bulk, including polyethylene, polypropylene, biaxially oriented PP film, as well as bags and stretch film. EPI also reprocesses some multilayer materials and all rigid plastics, including engineered grades and filled material from injection, blow and extrusion applications.
In addition, he said the company works with hospitals and other non-manufacturing businesses on clean packaging and sustainability. Engineered Plastics was one of eight founding members of the Healthcare Plastics Recycling Council, which is now 18 months old.
The company also handles cardboard, metal, paper and other items.
“The process starts with a waste audit, but it never really ends,” Duska said. “We look at process scrap, and internal and external logistics. In addition, we design changes in systems and materials to improve recycling and eliminate waste.”
EPI also offers customized disassembly and sorting programs. As a case in point, Duska said the company recently helped divert more than 175,000 pounds of thermoset plastics from landfills.
“This is an opportunity for the state to improve its post-industrial recycling and help reduce bottom-line spending,” said Bob Heuts, director of Lee County Economic Development Corp. “Companies won't have to pay to dispose of their materials and it will reduce” the costs companies incur by sending materials to landfills.