HANOVER, Pa. (Sept. 7, 2001)—Rubber recycler Recycling Technologies International L.L.C. has used a state grant of $3.2 million to quadruple its production space in Hanover.
The company expanded its operating space to 90,000 square feet from 22,000 and more than doubled its capacity for recycling scrap rubber, said Dennis Eckman, director of sales and marketing. The company also installed proprietary rubber recycling equipment.
The state money came in the form of a performance-based loan, which will turn into a grant if RTI processes more than 120 million pounds of shredded tire material in the next eight years, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development.
The loan paid mainly for equipment, while RTI kicked in about $500,000 of its own money to pay for more space in its leased building, he said.
With the added capacity, RTI should be able to meet state requirements, Mr. Eckman said.
Last year, RTI recycled and sold about 53 million pounds of recycled rubber, mostly retread buffings, with only about 20 percent coming from shredded whole tire material, according to RTI President Timothy Leighty.
With the expansion, the company has capacity to process 120 million to 150 million pounds of rubber material annually, with a minimum of 16 million pounds of shredded whole tires. To reach the state's threshold, RTI will have to process the equivalent of 750,000 scrap tires per year, Mr. Eckman said.
RTI neither accepts whole tires for recycling nor does any of its own shredding, Mr. Eckman said. Those tasks are left to other companies from which RTI obtains its tires.
“There is enough capacity in the market that we don't have to reinvent the wheel,” he said. “We will utilize any company—provided they have a competitive and clean feedstock and they know what they're doing—that processes Pennsylvania tires.”
RTI accepts tire chips from three to six inches nominal and can produce rubber granules from below 3/8 inch to 80-mesh material.
The company's recycled rubber can be used in applications such as tire compounding, sport surfacing, loose fill materials, asphalt mix and others, he said.
The firm uses some ambient size reduction on the front end of its process to reduce large tire chunks to 3/8-inch granules, followed by magnetic separation equipment that removes belting and other materials, Mr. Leighty said.
The proprietary portion of the process involves grinding equipment that is unique to RTI, he said.
“That's where a big part of the magic of our capacity is going to come from,” Mr. Leighty said.
Mr. Eckman claims the process produces rubber granules that are cleaner and more reliable in size distribution than RTI's competitors.
“We're not the least expensive in the market, but we are the most consistent, which really results in minimal headaches in material variation at the manufacturing end,” he said. “We will have absolutely the cleanest whole tire material available in the market, bar none.”
RTI posted about $7 million in sales last year, Mr. Eckman said. With the new capacity, it projects sales of $8 million to $10 million in the next few years.
“When people compare our material to others, we think we will grab market share,” Mr. Eckman said.
RTI employs 32 in Hanover and added one or two during its expansion.
Justin Boyd writes for Rubber & Plastics News, a sister publication of Tire Business.