Wellman Plastics Recycling — one of North America's largest recyclers — has a new name and soon will have new virgin material compounding capacity as well.
Johnsonville, S.C.-based WPR was purchased earlier this year by Shanghai Pret Composites Co. Ltd. of Shanghai. In a Sept. 17 news release, officials said WPR now will operate as Wellman Advanced Materials.
Shanghai Pret also will install two extrusion lines with a total of 44 million pounds of annual compounding capacity at the Johnsonville site. One line will be in place by the end of the year, with the second to be installed in early 2016.
The lines will be used to make thermoplastic polyolefin (TPO) compounds, as well as compounds based on long-glass-reinforced polypropylene and other engineered PP grades using virgin resins. These materials will be aimed at North American automakers and their suppliers, officials said. In addition to its recycling work, Wellman already had been making compounds based on nylon and PET in Johnsonville.
Pret also plans to expand product development and application testing in Johnsonville to make the site similar to its operations in China. That expansion will include new testing and quality control equipment.
Wellman's customer support center in Troy, Mich., also is adding in-house design support and other forms of computer-aided engineering to its customer offerings.
Pret paid about $70 million for Wellman, which is North America's fourth-largest recycler, according to a recent Plastics News industry ranking. Wellman has seen its profit level increase since being acquired.
Wellman's profit margin was 5.3 percent from February to June of this year, Pret officials said in a financial report. By comparison, that number was under 5 percent in the first nine months of 2014.