A couple of major forces in polystyrene — one on the recycling side and one on the manufacturing side — are teaming up to create what they believe is a first-of-its kind reclamation facility.
Plastic Recycling Inc., which has specialized in recycling polystyrene for decades, and Dart Container Corp., which is the world's largest maker of foam cups and containers, are developing a new PS recycling facility in Indianapolis.
This site, the developers believe, will be the first in the nation to process both rigid and foam post-consumer PS that will arrive mixed in bales.
With an expected annual capacity of 25 million pounds, the new site will combine PRI's expertise in PS recycling and Dart's PS washing technology under one roof.
One very big roof.
The new business venture has just about 300,000 square feet at its disposal and the ability to expand to 480,000 square feet.
The first recycling line will provide the initial capacity, but there will be room to add an additional line in the future.
PRI recycles PS for its own internal use as well as the production of pellets for other companies.
“We've seen a tremendous amount of interest in wanting to use recycled material, not just recycled but post-consumer. We've been supplying post-consumer since 1990. During the last couple of years, it's just really exploded in people wanting to be able to use the post-consumer back into their products,” said Alan Shaw, owner of PRI.
For Dart, the project goes beyond finding an outlet for its products once they are used.
“This is about so much more than foam cups. This really opens the door. It's a gateway for a lot more material to be recycled,” said Michael Westerfield, director of recycling programs for Dart.
“This is really a huge example about how voluntary producer responsibility can work and in a way that's not self-serving,” he said.
“Yes, we can capture your foam take-out container and your foam cup. But it can also take ice chests, which we don't make, egg cartons, which we don't make,” Westerfield said, citing a couple of examples. “It goes on and on. There's a lot of materials made out of No. 6.”