Recycling Works Newsletter Winter 2018

RBAC's quarterly newsletter discusses current topics of interest to recycling businesses, including information on financing opportunities, commodity markets and new technologies.

In the Winter 2018 Recycling Works issue:

Unifi Hosts Governor Cooper

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper and N.C. Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) Secretary Michael Regan visited Unifi’s REPREVE sustainable fiber facility in Yadkinville on Tues., Jan. 16. The visit gave Unifi the opportunity to highlight how its recent investments totaling $130 million over the past three years have provided good-paying jobs to North Carolinians and moved the company closer to its goal of transforming 20 billion plastic bottles into high-quality consumer goods. The group discussed Unifi’s vision of increasing “opportunities for North Carolina businesses to turn waste into value, thereby creating revenue streams while continually and meaningfully reducing environmental impact,” as stated by CEO Kevin Hall.

Others in attendance included representatives from the N.C. Department of Commerce, Economic Development Partnership of N.C., UNC Chapel Hill and VF Corporation.

2018 N.C. Markets Update

New Market Pricing Coverage

As recycling markets are constantly evolving, the materials covered need to be updated. Beginning with this issue, RBAC is adding two new categories to the quarterly market pricing survey: 3-7 Plastics and Bulky Rigids. As discussed below, tightening export markets are impacting recycled plastics and RBAC sees value in obtaining market data and tracking these commodities along with PET and HDPE.

National Sword Impacts 3-7 Plastics and Bulky Rigids

China’s National Sword policy has put pressure on pricing and the ability to move materials that have traditionally relied heavily on export markets. While the southeast has remained more insulated than other regions thanks to strong domestic markets for many plastics, some streams such as 3-7 plastics and bulky rigids are experiencing more noticeable impacts. Based on information collected from some of North Carolina’s largest volume material recovery facilities, market conditions are mixed with unstable or zero-profit markets in some instances and no market in others. In December 2017, RBAC investigated domestic market options for bulky rigids and found that processors still have demand for this material and are accepting bales on a case-by-case basis, including KW Plastics in Alabama, IntegriCo Composites in Louisiana, and Prime Plastic Products with a processing facility in Kentucky.

The strain on export options presents an opportunity to improve and expand domestic processing and end markets, and some efforts are already underway. IntegriCo Composites, with support from the Closed Loop Fund, is expanding its processing capacity to meet growing demand for composite railroad ties made from low value mixed plastics. In October 2017, the Association of Plastic Recyclers announced the Recycling Demand Champion Campaign to increase demand for materials made with post-consumer recycled polyolefin content.

Additional Market Challenges

During the last quarter of 2017, RBAC researched the status of carpet and shingle recycling in North Carolina. The market for roofing shingles has not been as robust as it has been in recent years as fewer companies are able to move them. As oil prices have declined, the price for liquid asphalt cement has gone down as well. The current low price for liquid asphalt cement has lowered the demand for scrap shingles, which has led to most facilities at capacity storage with slow moving material. While 2018 opened with a forecast of increased oil prices, it remains to be seen if it will be enough to bring shingle recycling back to previous levels.

Last year also saw some challenges for carpet recycling in North Carolina. The closing of a Shaw plant and decreased oil prices led to one vender shutting its doors; however, there are still vendors in the state that are hungry for supply: DC Foam Recycle Center in Morrisville and RCG Group in High Point. If oil prices increase in 2018, carpet will be one of many recycling sectors that could benefit.

Leigh Fibers Announces Plans to Acquire J.E. Herndon

Leigh Fibers — a global fiber and polymer reprocessing company headquartered in Wellford, S.C. — recently announced plans to acquire J.E. Herndon Co., a privately held company in Kings Mountain that reprocesses textile fibers and by-products primarily connected to the cotton industry. The acquisition of J.E. Herndon is expected to be finalized in January 2018.

Established in 1922, Leigh Fibers trades and reprocesses fibers and polymers worldwide, manufacturing branded products and specialty fibers through sustainable product engineering. Established in 1928, J.E. Herndon’s focus in the cotton area compliments Leigh Fiber’s overarching goal to become a global leader of sustainable recycled solutions across diverse markets, materials and product lines.

The acquisition of J.E. Herndon follows the 2014 acquisition of ICE Recycling based in Lake City, S.C. ICE Recycling specializes in zero-waste-to-landfill, turn-key recycling programs and waste consulting.

For more information, contact Daniel Mason, Leigh Fibers’ senior vice president business development, at (864) 804-9502.

Recycling Management Resources Acquires New Facilities

Recycling Management Resources (RMR) – a commercial fiber recycling company headquartered in Raleigh – acquired the assets of National Paper Recycling on Jan. 1, 2018. The acquisition gives RMR three new facilities in New Jersey, Delaware and Virginia. The company plans to relocate its existing Philadelphia facility to the newly acquired plant in New Jersey but will maintain its other existing facilities throughout the southeast, including two North Carolina facilities located in Raleigh and High Point.

Recycling Management Resources characterizes itself as a “boutique” recycler due to its ability to handle around 60 types of recyclables in various forms, relying on equipment such as roll cutters, balers and shredders to process the diverse range of materials. This acquisition will give RMR a stronger presence along the east coast, bringing its total number of plants to eight.

Statewide Market and Networking Tours

Last fall RBAC joined its sister local government assistance team in hosting a series of networking tours and workshops statewide. Several morning networking meetings were followed by tours of different recycling facilities that gave recyclers a chance to showcase their operations and highlight services that could benefit local government diversion programs.

RBAC would like to thank the following North Carolina recyclers for opening their doors to make these programs possible:

  • Sonoco Recycling, Wilmington
  • New River Tire Recycling, Pilot Mountain
  • American Recycling, Candler
  • Warren Wilson College, Swannanoa
  • New Hanover County Household Hazardous Waste and Recycling Facilities, Wilmington
  • Pitt County C&D Recycling Center, Greenville
  • Mecklenburg County Compost Central and Recycling Center, Charlotte

If your facility would like to be considered for tours and programs in the future, please contact Wendy Worley at (919) 707-8136.

Carolinas' Recycling Industry Gathers for Year-End Networking Event

Wrapping up the eventful year for recycling markets, recycling businesses from North and South Carolina gathered in Columbia, S.C. for the fourth annual Recycling Business Connections on Dec. 6. Hosted by the Carolina Recycling Association, the S.C. Department of Commerce and the N.C. Recycling Business Assistance Center, the networking event was attended by more than 85 participants representing a full spectrum of recycling companies from the Carolinas and the Southeast.

Participants had the opportunity to meet others in the industry to discuss market conditions, ways to partner and build new business relationships, and how to expand and grow their recycling businesses.

This year’s event was sponsored by Company Wrench, Pratt Industries, MetalTech Systems, EZ Products LLC, Lighting Resources, Cleanlites Recycling, Cox Recovery, EPS Industry Alliance, Republic Services and Resource Material Handling and Recycling.

Photo courtesy of the Carolina Recycling Association.

Announcements and Opportunities

  • Mar 19 – 22 - 2018 CRA Conference - The 28th Carolina Recycling Association (CRA) Annual Conference and Trade Show will be held Mar. 19 - 22 at Harrah’s Conference Center and Resort in Cherokee, N.C. This conference is regularly attended by more than 500 recycling professionals from North and South Carolina and surrounding states. In addition to sessions covering a wide range of current recycling topics, the conference will feature a large exhibit hall with plenty of opportunities to network and do business. For more information, including sponsorship and exhibiting details, please visit the CRA website.

  • Feb 19 - 21 – Plastics Recycling 2018 – The 13th Plastics Recycling conference will be held at the Gaylord Opryland Resort in Nashville, TN. The event brings together international plastics reclaimers, equipment manufacturers, brand owners, brokers, government officials and leading sustainability voices to move the increasingly complex international plastics recycling industry forward. Last year’s conference attracted nearly 1,700 attendees from 40 countries. For more information and to register, visit the Plastics Recycling website.


The Recycling Business Assistance Center (RBAC) is a program of the N.C. Division of Environmental Assistance and Customer Service (DEACS) that provides technical, business and financial assistance to recycling companies.