Clear Path Recycling is a PET recycling plant located in Fayetteville, US. The plant, inaugurated in December 2010, produces recycled PET (RPET) flake from used PET bottles.

Dalton-based carpet manufacturer Shaw Industries Group and polyester maker DAK Americas established a joint venture called Clear Path Recycling (CPR) to build the plant. The new facility is situated at DAK Americas’ Cedar Creek Site.

The Fayetteville site was chosen as it already had concrete pads for storage facilities, provision for waste water treatment, and a steam and compressed air plant. Easy access to interstate rail was also one of the reasons for choosing the site.

The plant site originally belonged to chemicals manufacturer Rohm and Haas. It was later used as a Roundup herbicide plant for two decades. It was shut down in 2001 and was bought by DAK Americas in 2003, after the purchase of a neighbouring plant which also manufactured PET.

Shaw Industries and DAK Americas are using 90% of the plant’s output for internal purposes, while the rest is being sold in the open market. Shaw Industries uses the RPET flake to manufacture carpet products, while DAK Americas uses it in the production of PET resins and polyester staple fibre products.

"Clear Path is a milestone for DAK Americas in its commitment to protect the environment for future generations."

The plant was approved in April 2009 and construction commenced in July 2010. The first line of phase one became operational in August 2010 while the second line opened in November 2010. With the completion of phase one, the plant has an annual recycling capacity of 160 million pounds of PET.

The second phase was due to open in 2011, adding another 120 million pound line to the plant. However, in March 2011, CPR announced that it has postponed its plans for the second phase of the plant. CPR decided to fine-tune quality and production of PET at the facility before adding another line. Based on the performance of the first phase, a decision on the development of the second phase is expected to be taken. The decision will be based on market conditions.

If another line is added in the second phase of the plant, it will be the largest PET recycling facility in North America, producing 280 million pounds of resin or five million bottles. It will produce 80% of clear flake and 20% of green flake. The plant is currently producing 120 million pounds of clear flake from the first line and 40 million pounds of green flake from the second line.

Contractors

Sorema Plastic Recycling Systems of Italy was contracted in September 2009 to supply washing lines and grinding equipment for the plant.

Process

The plant has a large bottle storage area and two manufacturing buildings with production facilities spread over an area of 45 acres. It grinds the PET bottles into flakes that can be used in the production of items such as carpets, paint, jugs and flower pots.

"The Clear Path plant is working towards raw material management for full-scale production."

CPR sources used PET bottles from the municipalities, Canadian bottles and West Coast deposit bottles under the curb-side programme. It plans to purchase around 10% of the PET bottles produced in the US from 48 states, as well as Canada, expecting an overall yield of 70-75%.

The non-PET bottles found during the separation process are sold in open market.

CPR started buying PET bottles from December 2009 to facilitate immediate production upon completion of phase one. It now has 20 million pounds of PET bottles in inventory.

Clear Path and the environment

CPR is a milestone for DAK Americas in its commitment to protect the environment for future generations. At the same time it is a strategic benefit for Shaw Industries in enhancing and expanding the product lines in addition to its long awaiting patent approval of the BCF manufacturing process.

The plant will be conserving a landfill space of over a million cubic yards a year by recycling 280 million pounds of PET bottles. In addition, it will also save energy up to 2.5 trillion BTUs a year sufficient to power 18,000 US homes a year.

Finance

Financial aid for the plant was provided by local and state governments in addition to employee-training classes provided by the Fayetteville Technical Community college.

The plant is also exempt from state taxes on the equipment, and facilities used for recycling and resource recovery, saving a significant amount of property tax.

Future high bottles demand

The plant is working towards raw material management for full-scale production. Currently, the plant opens a bale of bottles every four minutes. When phase two becomes operational it will begin using a bale every two-and-a-half minutes. In order to satisfy this huge demand, the company is working with the generators and collectors of the PET bottles.