Northwest Renewable News

Your Daily Source for Renewable Energy News in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana & Northern California

Plastic bottle recycling plant planned in St. Helens October 23, 2009

Filed under: Washington — nwrenewablenews @ 1:17 am

Two plastic-industry veterans and the state’s bottle-handling cooperative Wednesday announced plans to build the Northwest’s first facility for recycling plastic water and pop bottles.

The $10-million complex, slated to begin operating in mid-2010 on four acres owned by the Port of St. Helens, was made possible by state legislation which set a 5-cent deposit on bottled-water containers that took effect in January, one of its backers said.

Before this year, said Tom Leaptrott,  the president of Quantum Leap Packaging in Vancouver, it wasn’t possible to collect enough recyclable bottles to supply a recycling facility in Oregon. Quantum is one of the partners in the new facility.

“It’s the right thing to do,” Leaptrott said. “We’re creating a commercially viable business, reducing Oregon’s carbon footprint and continuing Oregon’s tradition as a recycling innovator.”

Bottles made of PET, or polyethylene terephthalate,  are now collected at 3,000 grocery stores in the state by the Oregon Beverage Recycling Cooperative, which administers Oregon’s bottle bill. The cooperative, a partner in the new plant, now loads PET bottles into containers that are shipped to Asia.

The St. Helens plant, to employ 50 people, will clean and shred the containers for manufacture into new products in the United States.

The facility will replace some of the 300 jobs eliminated in St. Helens last fall by layoffs at paper mill owned by Boise Inc. “It’s a badly needed shot in the arm,” said Gerry Meyer, the Port of St. Helens executive director. The facility will get tax breaks because it is in an enterprise zone and the port is investing $1.5 million in infrastructure improvements, Meyer said

Denton Plastics Inc. of Gresham is a partner in the new project. With both Quantum and the recycling cooperative as partners, “we’ve created a dream team for PET recycling,” said company president Dennis Denton.

Plans for the 90,000-square-foot, two building complex call for rainwater harvesting, rooftop solar panels, special processes for saving water and space, and building materials made out of recycled products.

Initially plans call for the facility to wash and cut the bottles into flakes, which will be sold for re-use. Next, after one or two years, equipment will be installed to convert the flakes into pellets and sheets. Finally after three years, the plant will get equipment to directly vacuum-mold the sheets into products such as clamshell containers.

The amount of PET collected statewide is up from about 9 million pounds in 2008 to a projected 14 million pounds by the end of this year, said John Andersen, president of the recycling cooperative, which includes 65 Oregon beverage distributors. He said 20 million pounds of PET could be collected in Oregon next year.

“It’s a pretty cool deal,” he said of the new plant. “We’re coming together to solve a problem without government intervention.”

Jonathan Brinckman, The Oregonian


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