A local producer of 100% recycled PET water bottles is bringing in-state bottle processing capacity to Hawaii. | Courtesy of Waiākea Water

Waiākea Inc., a producer of 100% recycled PET bottles for water sourced from an active volcano, is installing bottle-to-bottle processing equipment at its Hilo, Hawaii facility with a planned capacity of 52 million pounds per year.

Waiākea, founded in 2012, bottles water sourced from Mauna Loa, a large active volcano on the Island of Hawai’i. The company has used 100% recycled PET in its bottles since its founding. Now, it is developing an ambitious processing facility that will source deposit containers from around the state.

Equipment supplier STF Group recently announced it is supplying wash line equipment to Waiākea and its affiliated recycling operation, called Malama One Recycling. STF noted Waiākea will begin installing it during the second quarter of 2024.

Waiākea and Malama One Recycling elaborated on the plans in testimony before Hawaii state lawmakers in early 2023. Company CEO Ryan Emmons wrote that Malama One Recycling is building Hawaii’s first bottle-to-bottle recycling facility that will process post-consumer PET, PE and PP. He noted the facility anticipates a capacity of 52 million pounds per year and plans to start up in August 2024, carrying an investment of about $20 million.

Hawaii has a container deposit system, and Emmons noted Malama will have the capacity to collect and process the entire deposit center volume of the state, much of which currently leaves Hawaii for reprocessing elsewhere.

According to the recent STF Group announcement, Waiākea is installing a full line of bottle sorting, washing and extruding equipment. The sorting line from STF Group includes material feeding and conveying systems, a bale breaker, dosing screws, a magnetic over-belt metal separator, a manual sorting station, label scraper and a star screen. It also includes Tomra AutoSort optical sorters with two parallel streams to sort bottles.

The wash line consists of a wet grinder, air stream separator, hot-washers, float/sink separation equipment, post-washers, flake sorting, filling stations and a water treatment system.

Finally, Waiākea is installing a Starlinger extruder, Visotec solid-state polycondensation (SSP) reactor that’s used to decontaminate PET flakes and bottle preform equipment from SACMI.

In his testimony to lawmakers last year, Emmons said the bottle-to-bottle plant will create about 30 jobs in its first stage. He added the company is planning to expand into glass and aluminum container processing in later stages.

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