Los Angeles-based CarbonLite Holdings LLC says it has begun production at its Reading, Pennsylvania, plant, which it describes as “the largest stand-alone bottle-to-bottle recycling facility in the world.” This is the company’s third plant, which it says will process 140 million pounds of postconsumer polyethylene terephthalate (PET), which is the equivalent of 2.5 billion bottles, producing 90 million pounds of food-grade rPET pellets annually.
The $80 million, 270,000-square-foot Reading plant, about 30 miles from Allentown, Pennsylvania, in the eastern part of the state, is outfitted with robotics technology that is supplied by Bulk Handling Systems (BHS), Eugene, Oregon. The plant’s four robots will be used to remove non-PET resins from the incoming material stream. The bottle sorting system also features NRT optical sorters supplied by BHS.
This is the second CarbonLite facility to feature sorting technology supplied by BHS, says CarbonLite CEO Leon Farahnik, but it is the first one to incorporate robotics. CarbonLite’s Dallas plant also features a front-end system from BHS.
In addition to the optical sorters manufactured by NRT, a BHS company, that are deployed on the front-end of the system, CarbonLite uses flake sorters manufactured by Tomra Sorting Recycling, headquartered in Germany, on the back end of the system.
The plant’s wash line was supplied by Italy-based Sorema. CarbonLite’s California plant also features a Sorema wash line.
All three of the company’s facilities have extruders supplied by Austria-based Starlinger, Farahnik says.
He adds that the plant’s flake and pellet handling systems were supplied by Pelletron Corp. of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, which also supplied these systems for its other plants.
"Even with the pandemic and this spring's constraints on recycling and industrial supply chains, we pushed forward so that we can help our customers expeditiously fulfill their growing commitments to recycled-plastic use," Farahnik says. "We are proud to continue to help advance closed-loop, bottle-to-bottle recycling and a circular economy in a significant way."
CarbonLite says all its long-standing customers, which each use substantial amounts of rPET in their beverage bottles, have facilities in Allentown, including Nestle Waters North America, Coca-Cola, Keurig Dr Pepper, PepsiCo and other global beverage brands.
The company also provides rPET produced from ocean-bound plastic for use in ZenWTR bottles, which it says is an industry first, and for all types of PET packaging. CarbonLite’s PinnPACK Packaging subsidiary specializes in food packaging made from postconsumer recycled plastic.
CarbonLite has plans to open its fourth PET recycling plant near Orlando, Florida, in 2021.
The company also recently announced that it has developed a pelletized material made from the caps and labels recovered from the PET bottles it recycles. This material, a blend of polypropylene and polyethylene dubbed CaPOLabel, is being targeted to the injection molding industry, according to a news release from CarbonLite.