Evergreen Adds Recycled PET Capacity and Expands Geography

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Evergreen has been in the PET recycling business since the 1980s as a means of providing raw materials for its plastic strapping business. These years of experience allow the company to expand aggressively across the country, Abuaita said. The company hopes to add PET recycling capacity in the Southeast to help complete a nationwide footprint.

Last year, the company took a big leap forward when it purchased Carbonlite Holdings LLC’s PET recycling facility in Riverside, Calif., out of bankruptcy court. Carbonlite, which also had locations in Dallas and Reading, Pa., collapsed after it was unable to sell recycled PET at a price high enough to cover costs.

Evergreen won’t make the same mistake, Abuaita said. While Carbonlite was pressured on price, Evergreen aligned itself with customers who want the reprocessor to succeed.

“We have a phenomenal following behind us. They support us. They know what’s going on,” he said. “They basically support us. I would say the vast majority of CPGs [consumer packaged goods comapnies], as well as the bottlers, support our success. There are still a few who continue to beat you on the prize,” he said.

The fall of Carbonlite has raised a bit of alarm bells for some companies who have promised to increase the use of recycled PET in their packaging.

“The vast majority get it. Carbonlite’s bankruptcy was an eye opener for most. They were riding that horse and that horse died because they just messed up,” he said of the awards.

Carbonlite CEO Leon Farahnik said as much last year when his company went into bankruptcy court. “We’re fighting here for the need for higher prices,” Farahnik said at the time. “The return on investment is disastrous with this market pricing.”

The $200 million spent by Evergreen on its growth includes the purchase price of Carbonlite’s Riverside plant near Los Angeles as well as improvements there. Money is also being spent to expand the company’s original site in Clyde, and more money will be used to upgrade the newly acquired New York site, Abuaita said.

“We have been in this industry for more than two decades and are excited to play a leading role in its transformation. Evergreen has the expertise to help customers close the PET plastic loop,” said the Managing Director. of Evergreen, Greg Johnson, in a statement. “We have the network and the volume to really make an impact.”

Abuaita estimated that his company is now among the top three manufacturers of recycled food-grade PET in the United States, ranking with DAK Americas Inc. and Indorama Ventures Public Co. Ltd. on the podium. The exact position of the three companies depends on who you talk to, he said. Indorama purchased Carbonlite’s Texas site and DAK Americas purchased the Pennsylvania site during bankruptcy proceedings.

Evergreen is bullish on the recycled PET market because of the relationships it has been able to build with its own customer base.

“They are looking for more and more of the offer as they engage with the consumer. We are constantly looking for both the inorganic [acquisition] as well as the organic side for growth. We are there. We are in the market looking for acquisition opportunities. We have multiple studies for multiple locations for greenfield installations,” the CEO said of the study.

Evergreen has seen its recycled PET capacity increase significantly since the start of 2021 to reach 11.6 billion bottles per year. This represents an increase from 2 billion in January 2021.

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