NOVA Chemicals’ film recycling facility will occupy 450,000 square feet of a 1.7-million-foot building in Connersville, Ind. | Courtesy of NOVA Chemicals

Plastic resin giant NOVA Chemicals will build a large PE film recycling facility in Indiana. The facility will be operated by film specialist Novolex.

By 2026, Calgary, Alberta-headquartered NOVA plans to produce 113 million pounds per year of recycled polyethylene pellets at the plant in Connersville, Ind., according to a press release issued July 18.

Owned by NOVA, the plant will be operated by Novolex, a film and bag producer that runs its own film recycling operations in the Midwest.

“We are committed to helping our customers achieve their recycled content goals through a variety of business models and we look forward to making more announcements like this as we work to enable a low-carbon, zero plastic waste future,” Roger Kearns, president and CEO of NOVA Chemicals, stated in the release.

The company’s first mechanical recycling facility will recycle post-consumer films into PE that’s sold under the company’s SYNDIGO brand. That brand is part of NOVA’s Circular Solutions business, which was just announced in February. Late in June, NOVA announced it was working with Pregis, a longtime downstream customer, to incorporate SYNDIGO into a film that can be converted into food pouches.

The Connersville plant, which is expected to be operating at commercial scale as early as 2025, will help the company meet its larger goal of having 30% of the PE it sells come from scrap materials by 2030.

Sprawling site in eastern Indiana

The facility will be located inside a 1.7-million-square-foot building on 186 acres. The building will be renovated for the recycling operation, which is expected to occupy about 450,000 square feet and create 125 new jobs.

The release notes that Connersville was chosen because of its access to feedstock from nearby metro areas and easy access to rail service for getting SYNDIGO to market. Nearby cities include Indianapolis; Cincinnati and Columbus, Ohio; Louisville, Ky.; and Chicago.

“This will provide an abundance of post-consumer plastics to be used as recycling feedstock,” according to a company fact sheet, which noted that feedstock will include films collected from retail stores, distribution centers and consumer drop-off locations.

The interior of the building slated for the film recycling lines. | Courtesy of NOVA Chemicals

The Indiana Economic Development Corporation committed up to $1.4 million in tax credits and up to $100,000 in training grants for NOVA and Novolex, based on job creation plans, according to an Indiana Economic Development Corporation press release. The release noted that the city of Connersville offered additional incentives, and Duke Energy approved incentives to offset a portion of the energy costs.

Global bag, packaging and foodservice ware producer Novolex Holdings will run the plant. Based in Hartsville, S.C., Novolex has over 15 years of experience operating its film recycling facilities.

“The new plant will build on our experience of operating both our North Vernon plastics recycling facility in Indiana and our recycling plant in Wisconsin, as well as accelerate our commitment to support recycling and the circular economy,” Stanley Bikulege, Novolex’s chairman and CEO, stated in the release.

According to the fact sheet, the goal of the parties is to have the first line in the plant operational by early 2025. They plan to have all four lines up and running by the first quarter of 2026.

To date, NOVA Chemicals has purchased mechanically recycled PE resin from a number of reclaimers, including Revolution and Merlin Plastics.

Outside of mechanical recycling, the company is exploring partnerships with chemical recycling companies. Earlier this month, it announced a deal with Plastic Energy to explore the potential of building a massive pyrolysis plant in Sarnia, Ontario. It’s also working with a company called Enerkem to build a pilot-scale pyrolysis reactor.

A version of this story appeared in Plastics Recycling Update on July 18.

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