Georgia home to new PET chemical recycling plant
Chemical recycler Revalyu Resources GmbH is bringing the company’s glycolysis technology to the United States through a $50 million project.
The firm is acquiring 43 acres in Statesboro, Ga., with plans to build a 225,000-square-foot PET recycling plant with an initial capacity of up to 225,000 pounds per day.
For Vivek Tandon, the company’s founder, the move into the United States, in general, and the Southeast, specifically, makes sense.
“From India, we ship quite a lot of products to this part of the world — and in particular, to customers here in the U.S. — so it make sense for us,” Tandon said in a Jan. 27 phone interview just hours after expansion plans were announced.
“The U.S. has always been considered quite a long-term strategic marketplace. For us, now as a company that we have the new investor and growth potential, it’s time for us to come into the U.S. here and supply our customers from a local plant,” he said. “That’s the main driving force.”
Heraeus Holding GmbH of Hanau, Germany, acquired a majority stake in Perpetual Technologies in May 2022 and renamed the company Revalyu Resources. With the new investment came the financial muscle Revalyu needed to expand beyond the company’s single existing plant in Nashik, India.
Revalyu uses glycolysis at that facility to transform used PET bottles into both pellets and fiber used in textiles. A portion of that production finds its way to the United States.
Tandon, who founded the company in 2007, looks at the current PET bottle recycling rate in the U.S., which is under 30 percent, and sees great potential.
“The U.S. is where the market is going to be for the next 10, 15, 20 years,” he said. “The growth potential here is huge over the next 15 or 20 years. For us, this is a long-term market that we need to get into.”
The Southeast makes sense, in particular, because of the availability of used PET bottles, Tandon said.
The company currently employs about 300 at the plant in Nashik, which recycles used bottles into both pellets and yarns. Some flake is sold off as well.
Tandon expects employment in Georgia will be about 80 once the first phase of operations is complete in 2024. There will be enough room at the site to double recycling and production capacity in the future.
On the company’s website, Revalyu describes its work as “a low-temperature glycolysis process.”
“For the chemical solvent,” it states, “we conveniently use mono-ethylene glycol (MEG), which is one of the two components of polyester. So, there are no chemicals that are ‘foreign’ or toxic to polyester to be concerned about.” The process uses a catalyst in conjunction with glycol to chemically depolymerize PET that is then reconstituted into like-new PET.
News of the Georgia plant comes just days after the company said construction has already started on a second, larger PET recycling facility in Nashik. This new site will have a capacity of 440,000 pounds per day, and the company expects operations to begin within 12 months. Working at full capacity will require the recycling of 25 million used PET bottles each day, Revalyu said.
“Expanding our operations to the U.S. is an important milestone for our global expansion strategy. It brings us closer to our target of recycling more than 2 million pounds of used PET bottles per day by 2026 and contributes to solving the plastic waste problem,” Jan van Kisfeld, managing director of Revalyu, said in a statement.
Tandon, who holds a doctorate in physics and ran a private investment firm when he founded the company, said his decision to become involved in chemical recycling was based on the premise that a used PET bottle is more than a used PET bottle.
“It was trying to take a plastic bottle and trying to figure out how can you take and make this into a product that is equal or higher value than your conventional virgin material. It was not looking at the plastic bottle as waste product that you needed to treat as waste, but rather looking it as a product that has really strong, big value,” he said.
His company also hopes to partner with other companies to develop similar plants around the world in the future.