From left, State Sen. Martha Fuller Clark, D-Portsmouth, U.S. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, D-NH, and a small crowd of area residents listen as John Pelech, chief executive officer of Poly Recovery, explains how the plastic recycling company will be able to produce more raw materials from water and soda bottles as they expanded their facility at Pease International Tradeport in Portsmouth Monday. (John Quinn Photo)
Portsmouth recycling company's growth boosts business, environment
PORTSMOUTH — A recycling business that began in a backyard five years ago has doubled its output through the use of the state’s first plastic washing facility, which officially went into operation Monday.
John Pelech, chief executive officer of Poly Recovery, said the company, which he created in his backyard, recycles a variety of items — such as bulletproof glass, 18-foot canoes and plastic bottles — to provide raw materials to other area businesses.
“It’s our waste — let’s keep it here,” Pelech said, adding recycling the bottles reuses resources and creates jobs in New Hampshire.
After expanding its facilities and recycling operations, Pelech said the company will be able to process between 15.2 and 20 million pounds of polyethylene terephthalate (PET), which is used in soda and water bottles. He added this doubles their previous capacity of 10,000 pounds of PET annually.
The plant, located at 125 Aviation Ave. on Pease International Tradeport, is the first one to wash PET in the state.
The process will reduce the carbon footprint in the area and save 60,000 gallons of diesel fuel and 88,000 pounds of carbon monoxide annually, according to general manager Mike Mooney.
“This machine is like taking 60 trucks off the road,” Mooney said.
While 15 million pounds may seem like a significant amount, Mooney said there is plenty of room for growth as only about 30 percent of PET is recycled.
“It’s good for us because it’s job security,” Mooney said, adding the company hopes to see 75 percent of PET recycled in the future.
Mooney said the recycled PET is shipped a mere 11 miles away to Foss Manufacturing Company LLC, which produces a variety of non-woven fabrics and specialty synthetic fibers out of their plant in Hampton.
“All of our PET is going to Foss right now,” Mooney said, adding the company also recycles 29 other products for other companies.
As a result of Poly Recovery’s expansion, Stephen Deorocki, of S&J Transportation in Lee, said his trucking company will continue to benefit from their relationship.
“There’s always going to be a need for people to move stuff to and from the plant,” Deorocki said. “What we lose for their efficiency, we make up in volume.”
Coca-Cola of Northern New England, which operates a bottling plant in Londonderry, already recycles up to 6 million pounds of PET — in deposit states — each year, according to Jim Gottwald, wellness coordinator for the company.
“This is part of what we want to do,” Gottwald said, adding the partnership benefits Coke, Foss and Polar Tech in Massachusetts.
Following the tour and ribbon cutting, State Sen. Martha Fuller Clark, D-Portsmouth, said landfills — which are fewer and far in between — are “a huge issue.”
U.S. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, D-NH, recalled the movie “The Graduate,” from 1967, which predicted plastics were the future. She said Monday the future involves recycling.
“You’re the next generation who’s going to save us from the plastic landfills,” Shea-Porter said, adding it’s important to give people and businesses incentive to reduce the amount of trash.