A new Jacksonville company has taken to heart a challenge to reduce waste by turning residential curbside recyclables into a product that can be reused to create other things.

“The concept of Polywize began three years ago,” explained Brad T. Wright, general manager of the 1498 N. Bolton St. company that opened several months ago.

Members of the group, who have various backgrounds, “came together to form and build the company, which is designed to process post-consumer recycled HDPE plastics.”

HDPE – or high density polyethylene plastic materials – are purchased by the bale from material recovery facilities in local major metro areas, which process and separate curbside recycling, he said. 

The bales arrive at the Jacksonville site, a 70,000-square foot facility stocked with “brand new, state-of-the art post-consumer recycling processing equipment, with various pieces of equipment  specialized for the specific tasks they perform,” including optical laser sorters that make short work of separating material, Wright said. 

The machines “can sort out the material by color and polymer type that we don’t want and keep the HDPE we do want for specific customers,” he said. “These are primarily (used) containers of liquid detergent, shampoo bottles and milk jugs.”

The containers are then ground into small pieces known as “flake,” which is then put through a multi-stage hot wash cycle before it is extruded into brand new resin, which can then be used to make various plastic products, he said. “We sell only the newly processed resin to the plastic companies that manufacture the final products.”

According to the company site, www.Polywize.com, these resulting resins can be used in materials such as blow-molding, extrusion, roto-molding and others, and “are perfect for bottles, jugs and many types of non-food containers.”

While still a new production facility, the site “is designed to process 30 million pounds of PCR (purchased raw materials) HDPE bottles annually,” Wright said.

The website states that the company's goal “is to build the HDPE resins that fit your unique manufacturing criteria to maximize your productivity, and help you produce top quality final products. We’ll even use special additives to give your resins the qualities you need, to so it behaves in a more consistent manner.”

When the founders began looking for a location to place the initial plant, they had several requirements that needed to be met. 

“First, we needed it to be located within a couple of hours from major metropolitan cities. This was vital for the purchasing of raw materials (PCR), shipping and receiving. Second, we wanted a community that would welcome our business to its city and Jacksonville has done just that,” he said.

Recently, the new company was recognized by the Jacksonville Economic Development Corp. as the “Business of the Month” during a city council meeting.

In considering a site, the founders also wanted a community with “a solid real estate market” that had building large enough to fulfill its

equipment needs.

“The last, and probably one of the most important details we looked at, was the job employment market. We knew we would need to hire qualified employees and we felt that Jacksonville and the surrounding East Texas communities would fill that need,” he said.

The website notes the “growing demand for manufacturers to use more and more recycled materials, so fewer plastic bottles and containers end up in landfills. ... Now that the United States ships far less waste overseas, the volume of quality raw materials available here is greater than ever.”

Creating a facility to do just this helps encourage recycling while ensuring a healthier environment because HDPE products aren't sent to landfills.

“Consumers are becoming increasing aware of how plastics are being utilized and we are proud of doing our best to make the Earth a healthier place for our children’s children,” Wright said.

This profile is part of the Jacksonville Progress's special 2020 PROGRESS section, in which area entities are spotlighted each year. The story was published in our Feb. 29, 2020, edition.

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