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Business Gets Personal For Recycling Firm

February 28, 2003

3 Min Read
Business Gets Personal For Recycling Firm

Larry Parmet, president of Sundance Products Inc., a Gainesville, GA-based company which converts polyolefin scrap into black-colored recyclate, notes that one of his main customers is also his father-in-law. “It’s an interesting coincidence,” he says.

Three years ago, Parmet married Lorenza Torres, a former vp. of Mexico’s plastics trade assocation Anipac, and the daughter of Esteban Torres, whom Parmet has been friends with for 20 years. Esteban heads processor Kartell de México SA de CV, in Guadalajara, where Parmet met Lorenza while she was running the business. Now, business ties between the companies are close, as well. “We feed [Kartell] 70% of its feedstocks,” says Parmet.

Sundance recycles about 75 million lb of material annually. The miscellaneous scrap is largely post-industrial waste (about 80%), while 5 to 10% is post-consumer waste. One benefit of the firm’s Georgia location is that “we’re right in the heart of the carpet industry,” Parmet explains, so it’s easy to obtain feedstocks to recycle. About 10% of the material is lumps and chunks left over from extruders, which are guillotined. The material is then densified, blended, extruded, and post-blended using twin-screw extruders.

Sundance, which has annual sales on the order of $15 million and around 140 employees, has many automotive customers, supplying it with sufficient volumes. “We also shred, bale, and export 30 million lb/yr,” mostly to Kartell, says Parmet. Parmet says the main selling points of the firm are minority ownership, low cost, ISO certification, and supply of solely recycled material.

The firm has had ISO approval since 1983. “The only thing people [think] when you say ‘recycled’ is ‘cheap,’” complains Parmet. He assures that quality needn’t be lost through recycling. “If you do it right, you couldn’t tell the difference.”

Parmet says that shredding is a critical step in making good product. “Everything we buy is shredded,” says Parmet, “even if it comes in bales.” The company uses five shredders, including a single-shaft model from Vecoplan LLC, Archdale, NC, it installed in the past year. Before acquiring the single-shaft model, the firm had accumulated 2 million lb of lumps, chunks, and fiber to process.

While Parmet notes that the shredder requires slightly more attention than dual-shaft models, he says Sundance ripped through the material in 100 days with the machine. The firm also built a high-speed metal-detection line for the unit, since it is more vulnerable to metal. “You have to watch it more than the [dual-shaft units]; it eats up everything,” he explains. “In our business, our fear is metal.”

Sundance is building an internally-developed system that takes raw material and compounds and extrudes it simultaneously. By bypassing the densifying stages and some blending, the firm intends to raise efficiency. Rather, blending is done before shredding, explains Parmet, who notes that good shredding and mixing are keys in the system. “We’re still maintaining the concept that you have to touch and feel everything.”

The system is expected to have a capacity of 35 million lb/yr. Some of the operations of the system have been initiated. The preparatory plant, which is up and running, is equipped with laser-cutting systems to cut roll stock. A large blender is planned, and the system is expected to run at a rate of 8000 lb/h and use a 12-in single-screw extruder.

Material will be prepared 24/7 and extruded 24/5, says Parmet. The move will benefit automotive customers. “We’ve designed the system for existing [markets].” He adds that the firm is considering further expansion over the next 12 months.

Some of the expertise for the system came from Parmet’s father-in-law. Kartell is a processor of kitchenware for the Mexican market, and Esteban Torres, a chemical engineer, developed systems to continuously process raw scrap into finished products. “He knew its trials and tribulations,” notes Parmet.

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