A newly formed company plans to build what it calls the first new U.S. glass bottle factory in over a generation. The $123 million plant will use recycled glass.
The project in Valdosta, Ga. is being developed by Arglass Yamamura, a joint venture between Japanese bottle maker Nihon Yamamura Glass Co. and Cambium Arglass, a privately held investment company. The plant will have an annual capacity of 100,000 metric tons of product, or about 265 million bottles.
Valdosta is a city of around 55,000 people in southern Georgia. It’s located roughly 70 miles from Tallahassee, Fla. and 120 miles from Jacksonville, Fla.
José Arozamena, Arglass Yamamura’s CEO, confirmed to Resource Recycling the facility will take cullet. He noted the challenge of sourcing a large enough quantity and quality of recovered glass.
“We want to be very involved in this to increase the volume of recycled glass,” he said. “That is part of our DNA.”
The office of Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp issued a press release announcing the factory, noting Arglass Yamamura plans to hire 150 workers. A groundbreaking occurred this month, and furnace start-up is scheduled for the fourth quarter of 2020. Full operation is planned for the first quarter of 2021.
Bottles in the Ecology line from Nihon Yamamura Glass are at least 90% recycled content. In 1991, the company developed the industry’s first 100% mixed-colored cullet Ecology bottle, according to its website.
The Georgia plant aims to fill an unserved niche in the market. According to Arglass Yamamura, as glass bottle manufacturing has consolidated into fewer U.S. factories, those plants have focused on long production runs for products such as beer bottles.
That has left smaller beverage companies and those with diverse product portfolios reliant on imports, particularly from China. It’s a market trend that’s also been noted by Strategic Materials, which cleans up post-consumer glass and sells cullet to bottle manufacturers.
Arglass Yamamura says the Valdosta plant will have production equipment that’s flexible and efficient, allowing it to compete with the bottle-import market.
Arozamena, the CEO, also leads investment fund Cambium Arglass out of New York. He comes from a family that was in the glass industry for over 40 years, and he is also on the board of France-headquartered glass bottle manufacturer Verallia.
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