PolyQuest Inc. (PQ) is making new investments in its PET recycling operation in Darlington, SC, to meet growing demand for post-consumer recycled PET (rPET) resin. Since 2006, the Wilmington, NC–based company has produced high-quality rPET resin at the Darlington facility. Using either post-industrial or post-consumer rPET feedstock, PolyQuest can manufacture amorphous, crystallized, and solid-state rPET resins, including material that is FDA approved for food contact.
“This additional investment is ultimately driven by our customers’ commitments to sustainability,” said John Marinelli, CEO of PolyQuest. “They have entrusted PolyQuest with their current and future post-consumer rPET resin supply requirements. As such, we have chosen to proactively expand our recycling capabilities to support their strategic sustainability initiatives and stay ahead of the curve.”
Plans call for building at least one additional FDA-compliant rPET resin line in Darlington, which is scheduled to be operational by the third quarter of next year. The high-quality resin produced on this line will be suitable for use in the vast majority of PET applications, said PQ, which claims to be the largest distributor of PET resin in the United States and Canada and one of the fastest growing distributors of PP and HIPS resins.
Marinelli also explained that PQ has additional pelletizing capacity in Darlington, as needed, should it wish to “bolt on” another enhancement line, which the company is considering as it grows its PET recycling footprint. “Our total corporate thermoplastic recycling capacity is approximately 150 million pounds per year, which includes post-consumer washed bottle flake plus post-consumer and post-industrial pelletizing. Recycling is a key component of our value-added proposition to customers and represents approximately 15% of our overall business, if you factor in our virgin thermoplastics’ distribution,” said Marinelli.
Consistent with PQ’s long-term vision, Marinelli added that the company would like to maintain the recycling share of its total thermoplastics business portfolio over time. “Part of this exercise may require us to step into the olefins post-consumer recycling realm shortly, specifically in recycled polypropylene resins,” he said. “Even though the amount of post-consumer PP recycling pales in comparison with PET at present, the rapid growth of PolyQuest’s virgin PP distribution business requires that we study and consider investing in post-consumer PP recycling in the near future. We aspire to replicate our very effective virgin PET distribution/recycle model in the olefins market. Surgical investments in the appropriate post-consumer PP (and possibly polyethylene) recycling technologies seem appropriate,” said Marinelli.