Full-service, closed-loop recycler Polyfit US Inc. brought a $7 million-plus plant in Tecate, in northwestern Mexico, on stream this month.
It will recycle polypropylene and high density polyethylene primarily, Doug Miner, Polyfit's vice president of sales and marketing, said in a phone and email interview Aug. 18.
"However, the equipment was designed so that we can convert to [low and linear low density PE] production immediately, if needed," he told Plastics News, adding that the new plant "will run [at] between 4 million to 6 million pounds per month capacity, depending on the product mix."
It's the second plant that family-owned Polyfit, founded in southern China in 1986 and headquartered in Chino Hills, Calif., has built on the 12-acre site in the past three years.
The facility now has about 500,000 square feet of roofed space, including the two plants and warehousing. It has an annual production capacity of about 75 million pounds of LDPE and LLDPE pellets a year, but Polyfit can "add another 48 million pounds a year" at short notice, according to Miner.
Tecate, in Baja California state, is 33 miles southeast of the U.S. city of San Diego by road.
All the facility's post-consumer feedstock comes from the U.S. It operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week and provides 450 full-time jobs, soon to increased to 500. Polyfit has built a "strong and competent" workforce in Tecate by paying above-average wages, said Miner.
Asked whether further expansion at the facility was being considered, he said "another 6 million pounds per month for LD/LLDPE is on the table," although he said no decision as to when that might occur had been made. It would be, he said, a "market-driven expansion. We can be up and running in approximately six to eight months with another expansion."
Polyfit does business with "major Fortune 500 companies" in manufacturing, health care, technology and retail industries, according to Miner.
He claimed the company leads the market for natural post-consumer materials in the blown film market, with applications in items such as tissue and towel film, water shrink film, pillow pack, trash bags and grocery sacks.
"Our natural PCR is used in cast shrink film and cast bubble pack. We also participate in blow molding and injection molding applications."
Asked why Polyfit chose to build a facility in Tecate rather than in the U.S., Miner replied in a roundabout way that it was cheaper.
"Polyfit has the most unique process for taking natural and colored film scrap bales (and mixed rigid materials), sorting and separating the different LD/LLDPE materials, cleaning the materials and processing them to come up with the cleanest and most consistent PCR in the industry. This is a labor-intensive, multistep process where the economic conditions dictate we operate in Mexico."
He said there was a growing demand for post-consumer resin.
"Global studies show that millennials and Gen Zs are highly aware of and concerned with environmental issues, including single-use packaging waste," Polyfit writes on its website.
"They are more willing to spend on sustainable products and pay greater attention to the packaging of the goods they buy.
"This global consumer sentiment has driven many countries, including the U.S., to pass legislation to reduce dependency on virgin plastics. These laws, such as California's Senate Bill 270, mandate an increasing minimum post-consumer recycled polymer (PCR) content standard in the production of consumer and industrial goods."
According to Polyfit CEO Hunter Leung, his father, Walter Leung, started the business by collecting plastic scrap on his bicycle. The senior Leung designs and builds all the company's equipment.
Polyfit also operates two facilities in China — in Shunde, a district of the city of Foshan, Guangdong province — and four in Malaysia, all of them in the port city of Pelabuhan, Selangor state.