Coca-Cola Selling PET Recycling Plant, Sources Say

by | Jun 23, 2011

Coca-Cola’s PET recycling plant in Spartanburg, S.C. is for sale, Plastics News has reported.

More than half a dozen sources told the website that Coca-Cola has given United Resource Recovery LLC, its joint venture partner on the shuttered plant, the go-ahead to sell the facility.

One source said potential buyers have been visiting the plant, which cost the joint venture about $60 million. But another source said that investment level could push the plant’s asking price too high.

“Coca-Cola could end up taking a [financial] hosing and one-half on this,” one source said.

The plant, described as the world’s largest plastic bottle-to-bottle recycling complex, opened in 2009. It was supposed to produce 100 million pounds of recycled plastic when fully operational, or about two billion 20-ounce Coke bottles.

But this April it emerged that the plant had stopped production, laying off all 50 of its factory workers and nearly all of its office staff. At the time Coca-Cola told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that it was making plans to re-open the facility, but that the joint venture running the plant must be restructured “in light of current business conditions.”

In May Plastic News reported that recyclers were complaining of balances unpaid since the shutdown, with payments outstanding ranging from tens of thousands of dollars, to $1 million.

Sources said that only about 1 million pounds of recycled PET from the plant actually ended up in bottles. Coke failed to meet a goal of 10 percent recycled content in its PET bottles by 2010. It has another goal of 25 percent by 2015.

United Resource Recovery president and CEO Carlos Gutierrez would not confirm whether the plant was for sale, and Coke officials did not immediately respond to Plastic News’s questions.

“At present, the company is not at liberty to discuss publicly current plans for the future of the facility,” Gutierrez said.

Coke still has PET recycling plants in Mexico, France, Austria, Switzerland and the Philippines, Plastic News said.

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