Atlanta — KW Plastics Recycling is riding the wave of big consumer product company commitments to using post-consumer plastics.
KW, based in Troy, Ala., is the largest plastics recycler in North America. The company has extrusion capacity to reprocess 650 million pounds of plastics a year, split about evenly between polyethylene and polypropylene, Sales Manager Clint Pugh said in a presentation at the Annual Blow Molding Conference in Atlanta.
KW buys both natural and mixed-color bales of high density PE. Pugh said the white, natural material goes into blow molded bottles. Pellets made from mixed-color bales are gray and go into black applications, including bottles, some automotive components, construction products like corrugated drainage pipe, sheeting and composite decking, and applications such as planter trays and spools for wire and cable, he said.
Pugh said that market for the mixed-color post-consumer PE is expanding in blow molded packaging.
"I would like to highlight that there has been an ongoing interest and demand for mixed-color polyethylene in multilayer packaging. The benefit of doing that is you get to dump a lot of [post-consumer recycled] in the middle layer, so you can use virgin resin on the interior and exterior to not give up your brand colors," he said. "And it's less expensive."
Pugh also quoted Association of Plastic Recyclers data that said using recycled plastics reduces energy consumption and greenhouse gas emission.
Post-consumer PP goes into some of the same markets, he said. Some consumer product makers have been able to take gray pellets from the mixed-color PP bales and color them to brand-specific colors in products such as deodorant sticks, toothbrushes and housewares.
KW Container, a sister company to KW Plastics Recycling, injection molds the company's resin into paint cans made from 100 percent recycled material.