A grant from a national recycling nonprofit will help a Wisconsin thermoformer capture more recycled PET for use in new products and capture more of the recovered material closer to home.
The $100,000 grant from The Recycling Partnership is helping pay for the installation of new optical sortation equipment that will segregate more PET containers as they flow through the front end of Placon Corp.'s recycling line as well as better sort processed flake on the back end of the line.
Kali Kinziger is product manager at the Madison-based company, and wrote the successful grant to help pay for the $1.5 million project.
Kinziger, explained the new optical sorter is already installed and allowing the company to push more material through its recycling line more quickly. Installation of a new flake sorter should be complete in the coming weeks to help remove any non-PET plastics that make it through the process. The new project also incorporates flake sortation directly into the recycling line for the first time.
"The new grant will help us … increase the collection of PET bottles and thermoforms and allow us to source a lot more locally vs. having to source nationwide. We can bring in a lot more local bales and sort them as well," Kinziger said.
Placon is not only pushing more bottles and thermoform containers through the company's recycling line, but also capturing a higher rate of PET thanks to the improved optical equipment.
Placon currently specs PET bottle bales that commonly contain between 5-10 percent PET thermoforms, Kinziger said in an email. "We are hoping to collect more thermoforms with the new equipment but do not have a number of what that will be as of right now."
Placon received one of five grants the partnership issued in its latest round of funding to promote increased PET recycling.
"It's a really good example of the types of improvements that we'd like to see. We view it as enabling them to be a better steward of the PET that's being collected and sent through the recycling system. They are able to now maximize their utilization of that PET and generate more rPET," said Adam Gendell. He is director of system optimization at the partnership and leads the group's PET Recycling Coalition.
The coalition is in the midst of awarding a series of grants through multiple rounds of funding all aimed at increasing the amount of PET collected and recycled. Funding in this latest round is "just under $1 million," Gendell said, and includes a grant to Merlin Plastics to increase thermoform recycling at the company's Delta, British Columbia, location.
Both Balcones Resources in San Antonio, Texas, and Republic Services Inc. in Conover, N.C., are receiving grants for new optical sorting equipment at their material recovery facilities.
And thermoformer Direct Pack Inc., which received funding during the partnership's initial round of grants announced in January for a project in Mexicali, Mexico, is receiving an additional grant to help pay for the company's new PET recycling facility in Rockingham, N.C.