Plastics-to-oil firm Vadxx Energy LLC was in the Presidential spotlight on March 18.
President Barack Obama cited the Cleveland-based firm in a pro-manufacturing speech he gave at the Magnet Innovation Center at Cleveland State University. Obama also met with Vadxx CEO Jim Garrett and posed for a photo with Garrett and a sample of Vadxx fuel made from scrap plastic.
In a recent interview, Garrett said that Vadxx and three other Cleveland-area firms — including plastic prosthetic maker OsteoSymbionics LLC of Cleveland — were nominated for the visit by Magnet, which stands for Manufacturing Advocacy and Growth Network. Magnet has helped Vadxx gain access to business opportunities, Garrett explained.
Getting Obama to pose with the fuel sample took some doing.
“I asked him if he'd hold the sample if I said something nice about the Chicago Bulls, who are his favorite basketball team,” Garrett said. “He said ‘There's no way you're saying something nice about the Bulls in Cleveland.'”
Garrett, like many Clevelanders, is a fan of the Lebron James-led Cleveland Cavaliers. Obama took the photo anyway, and then said to Garrett “OK. Now what about the Bulls?”
“So I said ‘The Bulls are a good team. They should last five games when they play the Cavs.'” Garrett replied.
Presidential kidding aside, Vadxx has been busy of late. A single-screw extruder was installed at its Akron, Ohio, plant site earlier this month. The extruder will be used to blend plastic scrap prior to it being melted down and converted to fuel via pyrolysis.
A massive kiln was put in place in February. Commercial production at the site is expected to start in July. Garrett said the firm already has seen increased interest since the Obama mention.
The $20 million plant will cover 20,000 square feet and is being designed and built by Rockwell Automation. When fully operational, the plant will be able to take in 60 tons of waste plastic per day and convert that material into 300 barrels of fuel.
The plant is majority-owned by private equity firm Liberation Capital of Charlotte, N.C. Vadxx is sourcing all of its scrap plastic from post-industrial sites in Ohio, Indiana and Pennsylvania.