A film extruder and bag maker in western Pennsylvania is branching out — to the other side of the state — to begin molding recycled plastics products.
Gokhan Cicek, owner, president and CEO of US Premium Plastics LLC in Whitehall, Pa., has signed a long-term agreement to lease a facility about 250 miles away in Berwick, Pa. His new company there will be called US Premium Molders LLC and Cicek hopes to begin production by August after making some modifications to the building.
"Our challenge right now is shipping, construction materials [and] supply chain concerns with the improvements," he said recently.
Cicek is working to acquire injection molding presses with 450-3,500 tons of clamping force and other machinery to equip the 70,200-square-foot Berwick site. The company will make items such as collapsible containers, shipping crates, milk crates and pallets out of recycled high and low density polyethylene and recycled polypropylene. He said he currently has five molds and more are being developed for new product lines he hopes to launch as soon as next year.
Cicek said he decided to expand into molding and committed to the 10-year lease to meet the demands of a shifting market.
"The plastics market has changed and the desire to utilize durable recycled plastic has increased," he said. "What used to be made of paper [and] cardboard is now being done with recycled plastics. All of the products we will make will be durable, long-lasting and recyclable. There is much more value in the longevity of the products."
Cicek relayed his answers to Plastics News' questions through Kelly O'Brien, executive director of the Berwick Industrial Development Association. The association owns and operates the BIDA Industrial Complex, where US Premium Molders will operate. BIDA provides consulting services and helps to arrange meetings between businesses, regulatory agencies and economic development partners.
"We're excited to have another manufacturer in the area and hoping that by announcing this early … we will be able to provide a workforce for this industry," O'Brien said by phone.
By the end of the company's first year of production, Cicek expects to employ about 40 workers. In three years, he hopes to run three shifts, with a staff of 100.
O'Brien said she'd like to attract other plastics companies to Berwick. One is expected to be Cicek's recycling company, though there is no firm timeline in place yet.
"Eventually, we will close the Whitehall facility and locate all operations to Berwick," Cicek said. "The recycling and production will not take place within the same facility, but we are looking to grow and put the recycling as geographically close as possible."
He noted Berwick's location near major interstates and large markets on the East Coast.
US Premium Plastics' Whitehall facility has 205,000 square feet of space. It employs eight to 10 people making film and bags from virgin and recycled PE. The company, founded in 2012, said on its website that it and its partners extrude 180 million pounds of PE annually and have the third-largest extrusion capacity in North America. Cicek said he did not want to share information about his partners at this time.
The company offers metallocene technology and "together with our business partners, we also have the ability to produce monolayer, coextruded and tri-extruded films" as well as biodegradable and compostable film, the website says.