Plastics Recycling Update

Alabama polyester-fiber plant opens

Blue Synthetic Fabric / Lukas_Jonaitis, ShutterstockThe Southeast region has welcomed a manufacturing operation that’s hungry for recycled plastic.

Custom Synthetic Fibers, a major polyester fiber production facility in Alabama, began operations in July and is moving to full production levels. The operation is backed by plastic recycling stakeholders.

“We are focused on recycled polyester staple fiber, unless we have a customer that specifically wants virgin fiber,” said John N. Calhoun II, partner at Charlotte, N.C.-based Custom Polymers, Inc.

The company has the ability to custom-produce fiber in various colors, thicknesses and lengths to meet its varied customer requirements, he said.

The leaders of Custom Polymers and sister company Custom Polymers PET are operating the 80,000-square-foot polyester staple fiber production facility in Rogersville, Ala. The Custom Synthetic Fibers plant will produce about 40 million pounds of recycled polyester staple fiber annually. A grand opening event has been scheduled for Sept. 12.

The facility will source post-consumer and post-industrial recycled feedstock from outside suppliers as well as from Custom Polymers PET, which is located about 15 miles away in Athens, Ala. The facility is sized to allow an expansion to produce a total of 80 million pounds per year.

“It’s the newest fiber production facility to come online in the U.S.,” Calhoun said. “It is all brand new equipment, proven technology, with some proprietary processes added throughout the line that we hope will differentiate our product from the competition. Our fiber has already been well-received by the market from a quality perspective. “

Recycled polyester staple fiber, delivered in 550-pound bales, will be sold into the automotive, home furnishing, industrial, apparel and consumer goods markets.

The CEO of Custom Synthetic Fibers is Joseph Ku, who has been in the polyester recycling business for more than a decade. He noted that fibers are one of the biggest markets for recycled polyester. The trend toward assembling products domestically has bolstered demand for recycled polyester fiber here, he said.

Calhoun also noted that more automaker suppliers are adopting the use of polyester staple fiber in their products.

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