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PolyQuest to expand South Carolina PET recycling operations

Company also announces possible expansion into olefin recycling.

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September 2, 2020

In response to growing demand for postconsumer recycled content, PolyQuest Inc., headquartered in Wilmington, North Carolina, has announced it will invest in its polyethylene terephthalate (PET) recycling operation in Darlington, South Carolina.

Since 2006, the company has produced recycled PET (rPET) at the Darlington facility. Using either postindustrial or postconsumer PET feedstocks, PolyQuest can manufacture amorphous, crystallized and solid-state rPET resins that are either non-Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or FDA approved for food contact. Plans call for building at least one additional FDA-approve rPET line in Darlington that is scheduled to be operational by the third quarter of 2021, according to the company, which adds that the resin produced by the new line “will be of high quality and suitable for use in the vast majority of PET applications.”

John Marinelli, CEO of PolyQuest, says, “This additional investment is ultimately driven by our customers’ commitments to sustainability. They have entrusted PolyQuest with their current and future postconsumer rPET resin supply requirements. As such, we have chosen to proactively expand our recycle capabilities to support their strategic sustainability initiatives and stay ahead of the curve.”

Marinelli adds that the company has additional pelletizing capacity at the plant if it wants to add another intrinsic viscosity (IV) enhancement line.

Polyquest also operates a reprocessing facility in Farmingdale, New York, that produces recycled flake.

“Our total corporate thermoplastics recycling capacity is approximately 150 million pounds per year, which includes postconsumer washed bottle flake plus postconsumer pelletizing and solid stating plus postindustrial pelletizing,” Marinelli says.

Recycling represents nearly 15 percent of PolyQuest’s overall business when its virgin thermoplastics distribution business is factored in, he says. “Consistent with our long-term vision, we would like to maintain the recycle component share of our total thermoplastics business portfolio over time.”

Marinelli adds that this desire may require PolyQuest to embark on polyolefin recycling, specifically polypropylene (PP), in the future. “Even though the amount of postconsumer PP recycled pales in comparison with PET at present, the rapid growth of PolyQuest’s virgin PP distribution business requires that we intensively study and consider investing in postconsumer recycled PP in the near future."

He says PolyQuest would seek to “replicate our very effective virgin PET distribution/recycle model in the olefins market, therefore, surgical investments in the appropriate postconsumer PP (and possibly polyethylene)” recycling technologies.