PET recycler PolyQuest Inc. is expanding capacity at its Darlington, S.C., facility to meet sustainability commitments from corporate customers and considering investments in polypropylene recycling.
The Wilmington, N.C.-based company, which also distributes virgin PET resin, said it plans to install a 25 million-pound-per-year production line for making recycled PET pellets that meet Food and Drug Administration standards for use in food packaging. In a Sept. 2 news release, it said the new line will be operational in the third quarter of 2021.
President Tod Durst said there's increased demand for recycled materials in PET packaging from large brand owner companies who have made public commitments to use more recycled plastic.
"The demand is on the upswing and even [earlier] during COVID when there was some degree of contraction of demand in certain markets for virgin PET, we did not see any slowdown in the activity of developing programs for recycled PET content in the products that our customers make," Durst said.
The company supplies recycled PET from plants it owns in Darlington and in Farmingdale, N.Y., but its business distributing virgin PET is actually a larger part of its sales. It says it's the largest distributor of virgin PET resin in the U.S. and Canada, but it has invested in PET recycling since 2006 to offer both material types to customers.
The company is also looking at investments in polypropylene recycling to complement its business distributing virgin PP resin.
It's facing similar demands for recycled content PP materials from its customers and wants to duplicate that PET business model in PP, executives said.
"Even though the amount of post-consumer PP recycled pales in comparison with PET at present, the rapid growth of PolyQuest's virgin PP distribution business requires that we intensively study and consider investing in post-consumer recycled PP in the near future," CEO John Marinelli said.
Durst said the company does not have a specific time frame for the PP investment.
Marinelli said the company has capacity to recycle about 150 million pounds of thermoplastic materials a year, which includes both post-consumer and post-industrial PET in flake and pellets. The new PET line would boost total capacity to about 175 million pounds.