Clear Path Recycling LLC (CPR), a PET recycling joint venture company established by Shaw IndustriesGroup Inc. and DAK Americas LLC, began processing operations at its facility in Fayetteville, N.C., in late July. The facility has been built to produce recycled PET flake from PET bottles. The company says it hopes to have the first phase of the project complete by the fourth quarter of this year.
Shaw and DAK will be the primary consumers of the recycled PET flake produced by Clear Path. The remaining product will be sold on the open market. It is estimated that initially Shaw Industries and DAK Americas will consume roughly 75 percent of the flake produced, with Shaw using the recycled PET in its polyester-based carpet products and DAK Americas using the recycled PET flake in its PET resins and polyester staple fiber products.
The two companies determined there were opportunities to develop a company that could process PET into recycled flake, and CPR is the culmination of the collaboration between the two companies, says Ron Salati, vice president of CPR.
To ensure that the facility would have enough raw material at its start, the company began purchasing material late last year to avoid disrupting the PET market, Salati adds. Using this strategy, the company was able to have an inventory of about 20 million pounds of PET before the first phase began. By the end of CPR’s first phase, scheduled for the early fourth quarter of 2010, the operation will have the capability to recycle up to 160 million pounds of PET bottles per year.
The facility was designed and built to handle PET generated from curbside programs. Because it is targeting post-consumer supply, the company is working with generators and collectors of the PET bottles.
While competition for available PET, especially in the South, has been heating up in light of the opening of several new facilities, Salati says the company is comfortable with its ability to purchase enough raw material to meet its needs. He estimates that the company will be purchasing roughly 10 percent of the PET bottles produced in the country. Instead of targeting a small supply area, CPR is buying raw material from the 48 contiguous states, plus Canada.
He also says that while China has become a major factor in the market, “Our economics are better. We can compete, even with China,” he asserts.
The second phase of the project, which could begin during the first quarter of next year, could result in a production increase to 280 million pounds per year. Whether or not to go ahead with a second phase is contingent on a number of factors, including obtaining financing, according to CPR.
“The startup of the facility is a milestone for CPR and its parent companies in their sustainability initiatives of reducing environmental impact while creating a viable product for use in their product offerings,” Salati adds.