The money will go toward increasing EFS-plastics’ processing capacity. | Courtesy of EFS

Plastics reclaimer EFS-plastics will invest $17 million in recycling technologies at its locations in Pennsylvania and Alberta over two years, the company announced.

The Listowel, Ontario-based company will add additional processing equipment to the two facilities, Hendrik Dullinger, vice president of business development at EFS-plastics US, said in an interview. 

The goal is to increase capacity and reduce costs by achieving economies of scale, Dullinger noted. That will allow the company, which focuses on recycling both films and rigid containers, to better serve existing converters and prepare for upcoming recycled-content mandates and extended producer responsibility regulations. 

“We appreciate the political incentives as well as the strong voluntary actions taken by the private sector and want to ensure we contribute to the growth of PCR in packaging,” Martin Vogt, president and CEO of EFS-plastics Inc., stated in a press release. 

Pennsylvania sorting improvements

EFS-plastics will expand its capabilities at its Hazleton, Pa. plant, which recycles flexible plastics, mostly Grade A commercial films. With the market tightening and converters increasing their quality standards, EFS-plastics decided to invest more into sorting so contaminants can be removed more effectively.

That will allow the plant to purchase lower-grade film bales, such as Grade B or C bales, Dullinger said.  

“I think this is just mainly targeted at opening the spec wider and letting the machine do its magic,” he said. 

The added capabilities will also allow the Hazleton location to test sorting post-consumer plastics from curbside bales. In that way, it’ll provide a blueprint to design a curbside flexible film line in the future. He noted that, in Canada, flexible film recovery is seeing more emphasis from extended producer responsibility (EPR) systems. 

Sorting equipment is expected to arrive in the next few weeks, and it’s expected to be operational during the first quarter of 2024, Dullinger said.

In addition, EFS-plastics is increasing the capacity of that plant by adding a third processing line. The components of the line are expected to arrive in summer 2024, he said.

Big boost in Alberta

EFS-plastics will also install washing and extrusion capabilities at its Lethbridge, Alberta location. The 70,000-square-foot facility, which opened in early 2022 and has focused on breaking and sorting 1-7 bales, will add a hot wash system and extruder. 

“The long-term plan was always to build it out, so currently that’s what’s happening,” Dullinger said. 

In addition to continuing to recycle polyolefins, the Lethbridge plant will also produce hot-washed PET flakes, he said. The 1-7 bales that EFS brings in have included more and more PET thermoforms. EFS plans to recycle them into food-grade flakes, especially for use in new thermoformed packaging, he said, noting that it will be the first time the company has processed PET. 

Staff are currently working with equipment vendors to decide which pieces they want to purchase. EFS-plastics will use the pieces to assemble a system Dullinger described as “one of a kind.” 

The company expects to have the wash and extrusion equipment up and running sometime in early 2025. 

A version of this story appeared in Plastics Recycling Update on Oct. 10.

More stories about plastics