|Phoenix has big plans for small recycling markets|
|Written by By HAROLD BROWN Sentinel City Editor|
|Friday, 29 May 2009 10:27|
When it comes to recycling PET plastic, Bowling Green's Phoenix Technologies has decided doing the work on a smaller scale is the way to go.
That does not mean the Fairview Avenue plant is downsizing its operations.
What Phoenix does hope to do is expand its influence on the food grade PET recycling business, (mostly pop, milk and water bottles with number 1 in the triangle), by marketing equipment it has developed that will promote smaller recycling operations in a lot more locations around the world.
Instead of the 80 to 90 million pounds of PET processed each year at a plant like Phoenix, the new equipment is designed to produce no more than 10 million pounds a year in limited space and with limited staffing.
"Looking forward, the big plant did not seem to be the right model," said Lori Carson, sales and marketing director for Phoenix. "Materials have to be shipped so far, maybe 1,000 miles in and then 1,000 miles back out. We see the future as smaller, with more plants and operating on the local raw materials," she said.
For the past two years 15 Phoenix employees have been working to develop the smaller process, in addition to doing their regular jobs. The team included six engineering and support staffers and nine production employees.
Although the rising cost of fuel for transportation did not trigger the effort "fuel costs did reinforce the idea," she said.
General Manager Bob Deardurff said the smaller plant concept will allow PET recycling to have a smaller impact on the environment.
"This can be operated by a single person. That person can do the quality checks and equipment maintenance. It takes less than 2,500 square feet."
He said the equipment has been designed to allow shipping in sea containers and can be set up quickly. He said the equipment also starts and stops easier than the larger process.
Phoenix will provide support and training. Con Air of Cranberry Township, Pa., is manufacturing the equipment for Phoenix to sell.
"This technology uses less energy, less space and has lower capital costs," Deardurff said. The equipment features all computer-operated control system.
Early in the decade Phoenix developed a process to produce food-grade PET that was accepted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The process is also approved by the Canadian government and other foreign approvals are being sought. Some foreign governments will accept the FDA approval and that will create opportunities in other countries.
"The people here have made this happen," Deardurff said. "Their performance has exceeded expectations. We really work for employee involvement."
A company celebration is planned for Monday.
Phoenix opened its first Bowling Green operations 17 years ago and has gone through numerous expansions. It now has 80 employees and is producing 20 times more PET per year than in its first year of operation.
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