Unifi selects BHS for plastics recycling facility

System will purify PET for use in Repreve brand yarn in apparel and automotive industries.

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BHS NRT Unifi Repreve plastics systemUnifi Manufacturing, Inc., Greensboro, North Carolina, has selected Eugene, Oregon-based Bulk Handling Systems (BHS) to design, manufacture and install a front-end polyethylene (PET) purification system in the company’s Reidsville, North Carolina, facility.

Unifi says system will help achieve its goal of backward integration into bottle processing for its Repreve recycled fiber product line.

The new system, a $25 million investment, is set to begin operation in June 2016, and will feature the latest in screen, air and optical sorting technologies from the BHS family of companies, including BHS, Nihot and National Recovery Technologies (NRT).

According to BHS, the system will process approximately 22,000 pounds per hour of PET bales, removing the nonPET content in preparation for converting the bottles to flake. Pivotal to the secondary plastics purification process, BHS says, are the nine NRT optical sorters with In-Flight Sorting technology, which will be part of the system.

“We chose BHS and NRT because of their collaboration and attention to detail throughout our decision-making process,” says Mark McNeill, vice president of technology and business development for Unifi. “Their customer service and engineering abilities stood out as first-class, and after conducting site visits and research, we found that BHS and NRT offered the best available technology. This state-of-the-art facility will raise the bar for Unifi, allowing us to internalize the majority of our flake requirements as we continue to expand our Repreve filament and polymer chip business.”

Repreve is a brand of recycled fiber that transforms recycled plastic bottles into yarn for products and clothing. Unifi says that since 2009, the company has recycled more than 4 billion plastic bottles into Repreve-based products made by such brands as Haggar, Ford and Quiksilver, among others.

“This is an exciting project for all of us,” says BHS CEO Steve Miller. “Unifi is on the leading-edge of recycling, transforming plastic bottles into high-tech fibers that are used by world-leading brands,” Miller continues. “The company’s investment in this technology reflects Unifi’s commitment to creating material of the highest quality.”