Equipment is being installed in Verdeco’s new operation in South Carolina, putting the PET recycling firm on track to bring an additional 90 million pounds of capacity on-line this summer.
Rob Bindner, Verdeco CEO, told Plastics Recycling Update that the Greenville build is part of a long-term strategic vision that emphasizes material innovation.
With packaging manufacturers moving fast to bring more recycled material into different applications, the plastics processor sees opportunity in offering testing solutions and other services that could open new doors in the use of recycled content.
“We believe that, ultimately, for our customers to achieve their sustainability goals and targets, you’ve got to have innovation through material science and not just solely rely on feedstock,” he said.
The location was selected for its proximity to Verdeco’s customers and to several major ports, allowing for easy feedstock movement. Bindner added the Greenville area offers a variety of upsides that help the company attract and retain employees.
“From an academic standpoint, a climate standpoint, a cost of living standpoint, South Carolina – and Greenville in particular – really has the opportunity to accomplish all that in one location,” he said.
The 217,000-square-foot facility in South Carolina will pelletize hot-washed PET flake and also provide a testing laboratory that will help the company develop customized solutions for customers quickly, Bindner said.
“It’s going to be an environment for our customers to come and experiment and explore and share with us,” he said. “We’re going to have that type of collaborative environment, along with all the necessary development pieces of equipment to really amplify a lot of this discussion and develop solutions on the spot for our customers.”
Instead of sending samples and ideas out to a third party for testing, which can take months, the Greenville facility will be able to simulate the realities of a large-scale plastics manufacturing environment quickly.
That speed of getting new innovations to market will be vital “as brands are really beginning to implement their sustainability strategies,” Bindner said.
“This is really a collaborative environment to help them get to their sustainability targets much faster than they ever thought they could,” he added.
Verdeco made the choice to move away from purchasing bales and instead buy hot washed flake, which provides a more stable feedstock supply, Bindner said.
“The availability of feedstock is absolutely going to be the most critical element to any company being able to hit its sustainability targets,” he said. “We made the decision that we wanted to build a very robust supply chain.”
The company has already verified 20 different sources globally for supply, Bindner added.
Bindner said move-in and equipment testing will take place in June 2023 and the facility will be running soon after. There’s also the possibility of adding a phase two to the building, which would double the RPET capacity to 180 million pounds.
The expansion has been planned since Verdeco was acquired by EU-based private equity firm CUDOS Group in 2020.
“This really has been in the works since, I would say, the very first strategic meeting we had with CUDOS,” Bindner said. “From the very first strategy direction conversation, before when the actual acquisition occurred, we had been talking about expansion plans within North America.”
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