D&W Fine Pack LLC is adding equipment to make food packaging from up to 100 percent post-consumer PET.
The Wood Dale, Ill.-based company is adding what it calls the largest extrusion line of its kind in the United States to its plant in Fort Wayne, Ind. Corrugated Sheet Extrusion Machine
This new technology will be able to make FDA-certified food packaging products from 100 percent post-consumer PET and will launch in January 2023. The project will add 10-15 jobs.
The company said the equipment will use about 29 percent less energy than conventional technology because it precludes the need to crystallize and dry flake prior to extrusion. Doing away with the additional heat history should also result in a better quality part, according to D&W Fine Pack.
The company would not identify the equipment supplier, and called the project a multimillion-dollar investment.
D&W Fine Pack produces food packaging, single-use containers, tableware, cutlery, foodservice disposables and straws.
Russ Stephens, vice president of engineering, said the line will be able to handle a variety of resins.
"It was flexible to convert multiple different types of materials, so not only PET [but] the technology we chose can convert other materials as well," Stephens said.
He added that the technology will be familiar to the company's operators.
"When we chose our partners, we chose our partners that would allow our operators interface to machine in the same way they interface the existing machines that they have on the plant," Stephens said.
"The [extrusion] line was sourced globally in order to bring in the best technology possible. This will be the largest output sheet extrusion line in our portfolio," the company said in reply to questions from Plastics News.
The company's announcement highlighted that the new line will be able to use "a broader range of plastic flake ... from plastics that would have otherwise ended up in a landfill." In response to questions, the company said "the technologies inherent within this extrusion unit will enable D&W Fine Pack to utilize a wide spectrum of post-industrial and post-consume flake that will extend well beyond the traditional bottle markets."
The food applications will be used for cold food such as produce, grab and go snacks, catering trays and bakery items.
The company will primarily use PET sheet for its captive use, but officials said they expect to be able to sell sheet into the thermoforming market in the future.
"We can do it very effectively [and] energy efficiently," Stephens said, adding that the company can develop new products with up to 100 percent post-consumer content.
D&W Fine Pack ranked No. 4 in Plastics News' survey of North American thermoformers, with estimated thermoforming sales of $645 million. The company also ranked in a tie for No. 96 in PN's survey of North American injection molders, with estimated molding sales of $75 million.
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