PET bottle laying across PET flakes.

Republic Services’s new Polymer Center will supply post-consumer PET flake to Circularix for use in food-grade recycled packaging. | Aykut Erdogdu/Shutterstock

Post-consumer PET packaging supplier Circularix will buy PET flake from new plastics processing facilities recently unveiled by Republic Services, one of the largest haulers in the U.S.

Circularix, which is run by former CarbonLite CEO Leon Farahnik, will use the PET flake to produce food-grade recycled packaging. In a statement, Circularix and Republic said the supply agreement will have “domestically generated PET waste transformed back into food grade recycled PET for domestic use.” 

Republic, a nationwide publicly traded collector of recyclables, has been moving into plastics processing since early 2022, when it announced plans for a Las Vegas facility that would produce recycled PET flake and perform color sorting of HDPE and PP. Supplied mostly by Republic’s own MRFs, the Las Vegas plant was developed with an estimated 100 million pounds per year capacity.

That facility, which the company calls a Polymer Center, started up in December 2023, and Republic plans to open its second similar facility in Indianapolis later this year.

Circularix currently operates a facility in Hatfield, Pa. with a capacity of 55 million pounds per year, and it’s planning to open a second location in Ocala, Fla. during the second half of this year with a similar capacity.

Farahnik’s prior firm, PET recycling giant CarbonLite, filed for bankruptcy and closed in 2021. At the time, he pointed to systemic struggles in the plastics recycling sector contributing to the closure: the low price of virgin material, combined with brand owners who were reluctant to pay more for recycled material, created financial strife, he said.

When Farahnik returned to the plastics recycling sector in 2022 with the launch of Circularix, he proclaimed those pricing dynamics had changed. Multiple states’ recycled content mandates, and simply more brands making recycled content commitments, contributed to that optimism. Additionally, Circularix is only bringing in flake, requiring fewer processing steps than CarbonLite’s model of buying bales that had to be shredded and washed.

In their announcement, Circularix and Republic once again referenced the emerging brand owner demand.

“The agreement comes at a time when beverage brands and CPG companies are gearing up for mandates and commitments to increase use of recycled materials,” they stated.

In addition to Circularix, Republic announced its Las Vegas Polymer Center began supplying RPET to The Coca-Cola Co. this month.

Beyond sorting and shredding into flake, Republic is entering the pelletizing sector through a joint venture with Europe-based plastics production and distribution company Ravago, called Blue Polymers. This venture is slated to include four pelletizing plants in the U.S., where PE and PP sorted at the Polymer Centers will be processed into recycled pellets.

The first Blue Polymers site is planned for development near the Las Vegas Polymer Center. Republic estimates the pelletizing operations will come on-line by 2028.

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