Encore Recycling, as the new operation will be known, will eventually turn 100 million pounds of agricultural plastic each year into reusable plastic bags.
The plant will immediately provide 40 manufacturing jobs in October and up to 100 by 2014. CEO Pete Grande said if the company is successful he foresees hiring 500 people.
Grande said his company will invest $8 million to get the facility off the ground and, if his plan to sell reusable plastic bags works out, up to $40 million.
Although there are recycling facilities in the area, Command general manager Aviv Halimi said none of them could handle the scale of plastic needed to be recycled by the agricultural industry. He also said many products used by growers are not accepted by recyclers, such as strawberry mulch, the massive plastic sheets which cover strawberry fields.
Dole’s Thomas Flewell says the operation will recycle 135 tons of his company’s plastic each year, resulting in ‘”significant cost savings.”
In a further nod to sustainability, water used at the facility will be in a 100 percent “closed loop,” meaning all water used in the wash will be reused.
In July, UK specialty paper company James Cropper opened what it says is the world’s first facility that will recycle disposable coffee cups and reuse the pulp to make paper.
Until now, the plastic content of cups has made them unsuitable for use in papermaking, James Cropper says. In the UK alone, the company estimates about 2.5 billion paper cups go to landfill.