A multimillion-dollar plastics recycling facility that was touted as a game changer when it opened less than two years ago is being idled as owners consider its future.
Operators of the $15 million QRS of Maryland facility in Dundalk, Md., are pointing to challenging fundamentals in the post-consumer resin business.
The plant opened in the fall of 2015 with an eye on recycling Nos. 3-7 plastics from the East Coast. Financing included a loan from the Closed Loop Fund.
Rob Kaplan, managing director of the Closed Loop Fund, called it a "game changing solution" at the time and said his group invested because the facility aimed to build a market for hard-to-recycle plastics. He also said the scale of the facility, with an ability to handle 4,500 tons per month, was attractive.
Canusa Hershman Recycling Co. and QRS Recycling were partners in the project.
"Effective mid-August the QRS of Maryland plant will be idled to enable an optimization of the equipment. The company is currently evaluating several proposals that may lead to a joint-venture or acquisition of the facility," Canusa Hershman CEO Ethan Hershman said in an Aug. 11 statement. "These proposals include both well-tested European technology and novel technologies.
"While the fundamentals of the post-consumer plastic resin business are currently challenged, there is a growing consensus amongst consumer products companies, virgin resin producers and government agencies that the country must come to grips with the burgeoning plastic waste stream," Hershman continued.
"Especially in light of China's new National Sword restrictions, QRS of Maryland is committed to being at the forefront of finding a viable domestic solution for post-consumer plastic waste and generating new opportunities for those in the USA recycling industry," Hershman said.
When QRS of Maryland opened, Baltimore County said it would create 60 full-time jobs when operating at capacity.
Kaplan previously said the plant's ability to produce both flake and pellets at the same location was a key. Closed Loop, a social impact investment fund backed by several major corporations, provided a $2 million loan for the project.