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Already using recycled content, biobased materials, and overall less plastic through package redesign, thermoformer Plastic Package Inc. (Sacramento, CA) hopes to further build its “green” cred with the start up of a new 208-kW thin-film solar system that will power the production of 100% post-consumer recycled containers.

Tony Deligio

November 19, 2009

2 Min Read
Thermoformer’s photovoltaic roof eliminates peak power rates

Already using recycled content, biobased materials, and overall less plastic through package redesign, thermoformer Plastic Package Inc. (Sacramento, CA) hopes to further build its “green” cred with the start up of a new 208-kW thin-film solar system that will power the production of 100% post-consumer recycled containers.

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These cylindrical solar panels are able to capture sunlight over a 360° photovoltaic surface, helping California thermoformer Plastic Package eliminate the purchase of electricity at peak rates.

Rita Edwards, marketing manager with Premier Power, the company which installed the system, told PlasticsToday that Plastic Package took advantage of a tax-free cash grant to help fund the project. This was in lieu of an investment tax credit from the federal government that is paid by the U.S. Treasury within 60 days of a system going live. In addition, the processor also receives a performance-based incentive from its local utility provider. Edwards said the system will be used to offset the most expensive power Plastic Package buys by eliminating the need to pay peak electric rates. Such rates equate to about one-third of the processor’s total electricity usage. The solar cells are designed to produce 323,649 kWh per year, which is roughly enough to power 60 homes. Edwards says return on investment for the technology is calculated to occur between four and six years.

Saying that plastics converting is not normally thought of as a “green business” Jim Kaye, Plastic Package’s chairman explained in a release that his company’s sustainability push is helping it make major strides towards a more environmentally friendly characterization by using recycled bottles and bio-based materials in its products. “Now that we’ve added solar, we want to let the community and our clients know, so they can feel comfortable that when they use our packaging, they are part of the sustainable process.”

Using technology from a company called Solyndra (San Francisco, CA) that was installed by Premier Power Renewable Energy (El Dorado Hills, CA), Plastic Package says the 208-kW system installed on its roof will initially handle all of its peak demand and reduce its summer peak loads during the hottest part of the day. The company also installed a white membrane roof, helping boost the efficiency of Solyndra’s cylindrical solar panels. Those panels are able to capture sunlight over a 360° photovoltaic surface, with the technology targeting large, low-slope rooftops, common on commercial buildings. Started in 1970, Plastic Package vacuum and pressure forms packaging for industries ranging from food to medical, specializing in thin-gauge applications, with sheet thickness from 4 to 60 mils and draws to 6 inches deep. —Tony Deligio

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