CarbonLITE Bottle-to-Bottle Recycling Plant, Texas, United States of America


CarbonLITE

CarbonLITE, a subsidiary of HPC Company, is the world's largest producer of bottle-grade post-consumer recycled polyethylene terephthalate (PET). The company will build a new bottle-to-bottle recycling plant located in the Five Points Business Park, Abilene, Texas, US.


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The bottle-to-bottle recycling plant will produce food-grade PET pellets for manufacturing new bottles. It will process approximately 1.6 billion (80 million pounds) used bottles each year.

Plans to construct the processing facility were announced in October 2013 with an estimated investment of $40m. The project is expected to create around 100 new jobs and is scheduled to begin operations by the end of 2014.

Recycled plastic pellets will be supplied to North America's major beverage brand Nestlé Waters, which is CarbonLITE's primary customer in Texas.

Nestlé Waters Texas expansion

CarbonLite's decision to build a new PET recycling facility in North America was a result of Nestlé Waters' programme to expand in the Texas market. Nestle's expansion is expected to double the CarbonLITE plant's production in the coming years.

The Texas plant diverts plastic, which would otherwise be sent to landfills, to the facility for recycling.

CarbonLITE PET facility technology

Waste high-density polyethylene (HDPE) bottles are reprocessed to be reused for HDPE bottles using bottle-to-bottle recycling, which is also called closed-loop recycling.

The recycling process to be implemented at the new facility involves a number of phases. The discarded bottles collected from the municipal curbside systems and deposit centres will be decompressed to form half-tonne bales and transported to the facility by trucks.

"Waste high-density polyethylene (HDPE) bottles are reprocessed to be reused for HDPE bottles using bottle-to-bottle recycling, which is also called closed-loop recycling."

Food-grade bottles will be washed in hot caustic water to clear the debris and will then be sorted using sorting equipment to separate the bottles into clear, green and non-PET categories. The green and clear PET bottles will be cut into the size of corn flakes, which will be washed, rinsed and dried.

Purified plastic flakes will then be heated under vacuum treatment to remove existing contaminates and form a consistency of liquid spaghetti. The melted flakes will flow into an air-blowing machine to create food-grade PET pellets. The pellets will be transported to bottle manufacturing companies by trucks.

Recycled plastic pellets will be supplied to Nestlé Waters North America for use in its popular half-litre ReBorn branded Arrowhead Mountain Spring Water bottles. These ReBorn bottles are labelled: "Made with 50% recycled plastic."

Another brand of natural spring water from Nestlé Waters, called Ozarka, bottled near Abilene, will also use recycled bottles using the pellets from the CarbonLITE facility.

PET facility sustainability

PET pellets produced by CarbonLITE will be processed using a method approved for food packaging by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

A pound of recycled PET flakes is estimated to cut energy consumption by 84% and gas emissions by 71%. Every tonne of recycled PET containers will save approximately 7.4 cubic yards of space in landfills.

CarbonLITE marketing commentary

CarbonLITE is a privately owned company founded by Leon Farahnik and Neville Browne. CarbonLITE's 220,000ft² PET recycling facility, opened in Riverside, California, in 2012, is the world's biggest PET recycling plant and the first built by the company. The facility processes 75 million pounds of recycled food-grade PET bottles per year. The recycled bottles are supplied to Nestlé Waters, PepsiCo and others.