PET recycler Phoenix Technologies International LLC is planning a $35 million expansion to double reprocessing capacity in Bowling Green, Ohio.
Phoenix, purchased by Far Eastern New Century Corp. in 2019, expects to increase capacity to 140 million pounds annually through a project scheduled for completion by the middle of next year.
Work will include construction of a new 70,000-square-foot building that will house two new extrusion lines to create recycled PET pellets, said Lori Carson, new market development manager for Phoenix Technologies, in an interview.
The decision to greenlight the project can be directly connected to sustainability commitments made by consumer packaged goods companies.
"Many of the brands are very committed and looking at increasing their targets for rPET. It's a good way to help them meet some of their sustainability goals. RPET is an established, well-known commodity. It's a fairly simple reach," Carson said. "It's an easier way to help hit a sustainability target, and they have some big sustainability targets coming up over the next five years."
Feedstock for the new lines will come from the company's nearby PET bottle flaking operation, also located in Bowling Green, as well as outside sources, Carson said.
Phoenix Technologies expects to add about 25 new jobs once the new facility is fully operational, she said.
The company, which has been recycling PET in Bowling Green for nearly three decades, designed its own processing equipment all those years ago. Development of the PET recycling equipment market over time now allows the firm to purchase the new equipment from an outside vendor.
"We developed our own technology, which has served us well for almost 30 years. But it is unique to Phoenix," Carson said. The new equipment is "well-known technology. It's just going to be slightly different than what we have because ours was homegrown," she said.
Phoenix will continue to run its own technology, which has been updated over time, for the company's existing production.
"While the market at any given time can be tricky, challenging, whatever you want to say, we believe that long-term it absolutely can support the capacity that is going into the market," Carson said.
The company expects to process 5 billion bottles each year into food-grade recycled PET once the additional work is complete.
Far Eastern New Century, based in Taipei, Taiwan, has a diversified business in plastics, calling itself the leading global polyester supplier, the world's second largest provider of recycled PET, the third largest in PET resin and Asia's leader in polyester sheet.
Far Eastern New Century also produces nonwoven fiber, hygiene fibers, recycled filament and nylon 6/6 filament. The company supplies medical grade polyethylene/polypropylene and PE/PET composite fibers, according to the website.
Being owned by Far Eastern New Century also allows Phoenix Technologies to tap into the resources of the parent company to procure recycled PET to process through the expansion, Carson said.
Along with the Bowling Green operations, the company also owns APG Polytech USA, a virgin PET producer in Apple Grove, W.Va., and has an ownership stake in the partially constructed PET plant in Corpus Christi, Texas.
Partners in Corpus Christi Polymers LLC just this summer announced plans to restart construction with an expected finish date in early 2025. Work on the location stopped when former owner M&G Group ran into financial difficulties and sought bankruptcy court protection. The joint venture including Far Eastern New Century, Alpek and Indorama Ventures purchased the site for $1.1 billion in 2018.