The United States is currently experiencing a high demand for recycled plastics during the pandemic. To meet those demands, companies are working to increase production capacity.

KW Plastics, based in Troy, Ala., has been working throughout the pandemic to meet those demands. “Suddenly, COVID-19 hit and safety and health became an immediate priority overnight,” Stephanie Baker, KW Plastics’ director of market development, said in September. KW customers sent the company many letters voicing their concerns about sourcing enough resin, Baker noted. This outpouring of concern highlights the essential role recycled materials processors play in manufacturing. “From the very beginning, there was no question whether recycling was considered essential or not,” Baker said.

The company experienced increase sales of its in-house manufacturing operation KW Container, which produces paint cans from recycled Polypropylene (PP). Usually consumers reach for these products in the spring for home improvements or DIY projects and demand lowers in the fall. However, demand was still high even in September 2020, Baker said.

Upon seeing shifts in demand for PP paint, as well as High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE) and other resins, KW added two new extruders to its production line and hired more employees. “If we can get the equipment, which is tight right now, we have plans to add two or three more, because we feel like we are going to see this demand continue to grow for at least the next two or three years,” Baker said. “So we are investing in the middle of the pandemic, as crazy as that sounds, into more production capacity.”

More recently, this past March, Petoskey Plastics announced plans to invest in a new facility in McKinney, Texas to increase its production capacity. The company manufactures blown film products with PCR.

COVID-19 led to a high demand for blown film products including trash bags, construction sheeting, and automotive covers. The company intends the new facility to increase output over 15% over the next 12 months through a combination of converting and extruding lines in the plant.

The company plans to expand the 53,000 square-foot building an additional 40,000 to 60,000 square feet for converting and warehouse space, nine silos, and rail spurs. Production on the new facility will begin this month. Building expansion is scheduled for completion in August 2022.

To stay up-to-date about developments in plastics recycling, consider attending the Plastics Spotlight at ISRI2021, ISRI’s virtual convention, from 2:45–3:45 p.m. on Thursday, April 22. Click here to register for ISRI2021.

Image courtesy of Petoskey Plastics