(Boca Raton, FL) has been granted non-alcoholic food-contact clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the use of its recycled polypropylene (PP) and polystyrene (PS) resins in thermoformed or injection molded items. With that certification in hand, the company also announced plans to ramp up production with a commercial-scale facility in Kentucky. Ronald Whaley, president and CEO of MVR, told PlasticsToday that MVR's materials are FDA approved to be up to 100% recycled content in a package and that they have comparable performance qualities to virgin PP and PS, giving them possible entrée into a wide array of consumer applications.
"We're seeing a tremendous amount of interest in the resin across a variety of market segments," Whaley said, "everything from traditional consumer products to personal-care products to food-service products. Consumer product companies are really moving to the point where they want to differentiate their product on the shelf by telling the consumer that it's green."
In response to that market pull, MVR has also announced its is investing more than $9 million in a former auto parts manufacturing facility in Frankfort, KY to convert it into a commercial-scale production site for its resin. The 220,000-ft2 facility will have the capacity to generate approximately 100 million lb/yr of material, according to Whaley, running six lines with optical sorting, washing, and pelletizing equipment. The company estimates that it will create 360 new jobs, and Whaley said MVR is in the final stages of negotiation with the city, county, and state. The company intends to be up and running by third quarter and fully operational by the end of the year.
MVR's recycled PP and PS are generated from plastic waste supplied by U.S. retailers using what the company calls a proprietary process. Declining to offer detail, MVR says the process includes the sorting, washing, drying, and extruding one might expect from a traditional recycling operation, but with its own, unique process technologies. The resulting materials can be used in a range of conditions, withstanding boiling water up to 212°F or, on the other end of the temperature spectrum, frozen food. In terms of sustainability credentials, MVR says the carbon footprint of its resins is 70% less than virgin. "We think there's a pretty large opportunity in North America especially to really refocus people on sustainable recycling," Whaley said, "and rather than pulling oil out of the ground to create resin, we're keeping plastics from being put in the ground to create resin that performs very comparably to virgin."
Whaley, whose background includes 23 years with the plastic foodservice company Solo, was brought out of retirement by MVR's private equity owners, Laser Partners (Boca Raton, FL). Three years ago, Laser made a minority investment in MVR, and in early 2009, it took control of the business. At that point, the company hired Whaley and began transitioning from a standard recycler to a resin supplier, starting work on the FDA approval. "In the last year, we've refocused MVR from a traditional recycler to a creator of sustainable resin," Whaley said. "We're a little bit different from others in that our feedstock happens to be plastic waste as opposed to some other resource." Whaley said the company's long-term plan is to offer a complete line of plastic resin products that perform similarly to virgin and are all FDA approved.
Tapping into consumer interest in green, Whaley says MVR's products have a more tangible sustainability claim for the general public. "Often times consumers don't really understand cap and trade, they don't understand what a carbon footprint is," Whaley said, "but if you talk to them and prove to them that use of this material vs. another material either saves oil or saves gasoline, that it's like taking cars off the road, it's something that people can use to market their products."
The company is also taking a different collection tact, avoiding buying scrap on the spot market, and moving up the waste stream for material procurement. "We're trying to work as close to the source generated as possible," Whaley said, "whether that's a retailer, whether that's a municipality, whether that's a municipal recycling facility. We really want to get as close to the collection or generation point as possible, because for us, we're not buying waste, we're buying raw material." —Tony Deligio