By Carol Ryan Dumas
SALINAS, Calif. - Command Packaging, a U.S. manufacturer of reusable shopping and restaurant bags, plans to open an agricultural plastic recycling center in Salinas in the heart of farming country in California's Central Valley.
Encore Recycling, with a new 130,000 square foot, state-of-the-art facility, plans to eventually recycle virtually all of California's discarded agricultural plastics, which currently end up in landfills, said Pete Grande, CEO of Command Packaging and Encore Recycling.
The facility is scheduled to begin operations in October, producing raw product that will be used to manufacture reusable bags for the grocery industry, he said.
The operation will help meet the need of California's ag industry, which uses and discards 100 million to 150 million pounds of plastic annually, he said.
It's good for growers, the ag industry and the environment, Grande said.
Agricultural plastic includes such things as fumigation film, mulch film, drip tape, arbor covers, film for hoop houses, and processor film, some with only a one-season use, he said.
Currently there is nowhere for discarded ag plastic to go but the landfill, at a cost of $30 to $110 a ton, in addition to the labor and transportation costs to get it to the dump. Recycling offers a good solution for the ag industry, the grocery industry, consumers, and the environment, he said.
The operation will partner with ag operations such as Dole, Driscoll, Pacific Gold Farms, Ramco, Red Blossom Strawberries, and independent growers to collect, clean and recycle ag plastic.
Encore Recycling will begin recycling plastic from a small group of specified but significant charter clients and grow its capacity quickly.
The company doesn't plan to charge ag clients to accept the material, but that could change, Grande said.
Much of the state's ag plastic used to go to China for recycling, but with a change in China's environmental policies, it no longer accepts plastic unless it is cleaned first. At that point, it is already partially processed and there's no economic benefit to ship it to China, he said.
Encore Recycling will add 40 manufacturing jobs in October. In 2014, the company expects to employ over 100 full time workers and by 2015 expects to employ 200, recycling 100 million pounds of plastic a year, he said.
The recycled raw product will initially be sent to Command Packaging's manufacturing plant in the Los Angeles. Phase II will be to manufacture reusable bags at the Salinas plant with 500 employees, he said.
To partner with Encore Recycling, contact: Aviv Halimi, general manager, at email@example.com
Command Packaging: www.commandpackaging.com
Encore Recycling: www.encore-recycling.com