Las Vegas — Multi-material recyclers are seeing plenty of opportunities in plastics recycling.
Officials from several recycling firms tackled the plastics market April 4 at ISRI 2016, a scrap recycling event in Las Vegas organized by the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries Inc. Among them was Sunil Bagaria, president of GDC International Inc., a recycler of metal, plastics, paint and paper in New Brunswick, N.J.
“People say that plastics are too much of a problem for a metal scrap yard,” Bagaria said. “But you already have the facility and the machines, and plastics will attract more deliveries by contractors.
“You can use the same vehicles, and your volume of metal also will increase for a low capital requirement,” he added. “Everyone hates change, but change means progress.”
Bagaria named PVC siding, conduit, pipe, fence and window profiles as potential scrap sources, along with polypropylene supersacks, polyethylene stretch film, pallets, drums, buckets and crates and PET strapping.
Challenges to using plastic scrap, according to Bagaria, are identifying and sorting the material, avoiding mixing plastic with metal in baling and finding indoor storage needed for plastics. Unlike metals, plastics can't be stored outside, he explained.
And although recycled plastics prices currently are down — as are metals prices — the addition of new polyethylene capacity in North America is a good sign for future plastics usage, Bagaria added.
Mylinda Jacobsen — purchasing manager with high density PE recycler and compounder Envision Plastics Industries LLC in Reidsville, N.C. — added some items to Bagaria's list, including toter bins, park benches, shade balls, playground equipment and flower pots.
“Just make sure you remove the wheels and metal from the toters — and that you know who owns the crates” she said.
Jacobsen added that “there's a lot of value in plastics that can add to your bottom line.” Based on processing volume, Envision ranked as North America's 15th largest plastics recycler in a recent ranking compiled by Plastics News.
John Aspland has owned and operated Adirondack Plastics & Recycling Inc. — a plastics and paper recycling firm in Argyle, N.Y. — for 25 years. He still sees possibilities in plastics work.
“We go to companies like Hasbro and Chobani and then we sort, grind and sell,” Aspland said. “We get as close to the end user as possible.”
Adirondack does only post-industrial work and has recycled plastic items ranging from syringes that were being landfilled to polystyrene trays used in battery production. The firm also has salvaged PS interiors from refrigerators and polycarbonate and acrylic sheet from soda machines.
“You need to know what you're getting and you need to have an end market,” Aspland explained. “But you can find a market in anything.”