Strong demand for recycled plastics is working in the industry's favor. Major users of plastic packaging, apparently responding to consumer desires, have begun incorporating at least some recycled plastic content in their products as part of the growing interest in recycling. Recycled resin demand is on the rise as prices for the two major recycled resins, PET and HDPE, continue to hold value or appreciate against their virgin counterparts.
In volume, PET is currently the number one recycled resin. Supply of recycled PET is in excess of 800 million pounds per year. This figure is expected to grow, reaching over 1 billion pounds during the next few years. The plastics industry has developed new markets and applications for recycled resins from both post-consumer and post-industrial sources.
PET leads the recycled recovered resins as the most visible and valuable, and its use is increasing. Of the total 3.7 billion pounds of PET consumed in 1997, just 16% was from recycled sources. Of the more than 90 billion pounds of plastics produced annually in the United States, less than 5% is from recycled sources. Plastics, after aluminium, represent the second highest value material in the waste stream and have the highest projected growth rate.
Markets and uses for recycled plastics are rapidly expanding. Plastic containers are being collected at the curb for recycling in nearly 500 communities, representing more than 4 million households. U.S. demand for recycled plastic will continue to expand and new markets will develop as technologies permit the efficient segregation and reprocessing of high-purity resins. Improved quality of resins, environmental issues and higher prices for virgin resin will contribute to growth.
Packaging is expected to be the largest market segment for recycled plastics, with sheet and lumber following. Surveys indicate that Americans are increasingly willing to collect and separate discarded packages, foregoing a degree of convenience to make products more disposable, and even paying a premium for a recycled item.
Increasingly, communities are refusing to consider incineration until every effort is made first to recycle; public sentiment is strongly in favor of products that can be recycled or are made of recycled materials. In recent years, the household recycling rate of PET bottles has more than doubled to 30% of all PET soft drink bottles sold. In fact, PET's recycling rate is the fastest growing among all beverage containers. The future of PET recycling is even brighter than it has been in the past. PET intrinsic scrap value is second only to aluminium among container materials. The plastics industry has launched a research and development program aimed at increasing PET recycling. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), plastic soft drink bottles account for approximately 2% of the solid waste discarded in America. The EPA has set a national goal to recycle 25% of the municipal solid waste stream and the industry is committed to achieving its share of that important goal.
The recycling industry intends to accelerate the rate of plastic recycling as part of its commitment to develop solutions to the solid waste problem. Industry analysts have projected that 50% of all PET containers will be recycled by the year 2007. More plastics will be recycled annually than any other recyclable material. Replay believes a significant answer to America's waste problem lies in creating high value, recycled thermoformable sheet and other extruded products for the packaging market.
Although more than 200 million pounds of PET post-consumer materials are collected in the western United States each year, there is presently no local cleaning and refining facility converting the bottles into resins suitable for re-manufacturing. Originally, recycled PET (RPET) was used primarily in the carpet fiber industry, which is located along the eastern seaboard. The early development of the RPET industry was therefore focused in the eastern USA, with eastern states adopting the first bottle deposit laws that resulted in collection of post-consumer bottles that can be recycled. Recently, California, Oregon and Washington have adopted bottle deposit programs, and accumulation of recyclable materials in those states has begun. With all of the cleaning and recycling plants and the majority of consumers traditionally located in the eastern part of the country, development of consumers of recycled flake and down-line products, such as film and sheet, has been slow to develop in the West. A strong demand for post-consumer bottles from Asia has prevented the buildup of inventories and reduced the pressure for the collection industry to find or develop western markets.
There is currently no independent extrusion plant of recycled polyterephthalate (PET) sheet in the western United States or Canada that services the roll stock requirements of major custom and proprietary formers. With the development of the recycling industry for PET starting in the eastern part of the country, and the preponderance of consumers of sheet there as well, development of independent extrusion facilities using RPET has been slow to develop. It appears that in order to attract such companies, local sources of RPET would have to available. While there are customers in the West for the products, contracting a supply and shipping it from the East makes the venture unattractive.
Our founders recognize that an opportunity exists and propose a vertically integrated conversion facility that will employ state-of-the-art technologies to produce extruded sheet and high strength strapping from 100% recycled PET post-consumer bottle stock, cleaned and refined in our own facility.
The Company has chosen its target markets because recycled PET (RPET) is in high demand as flake resin by converters, as roll stock sheet used to produce high visibility packaging and as high strength strapping for the lumber industry. Sales are price-sensitive, so that proximity to markets and feed stock source provide a competitive edge. Replay Plastics identified an opportunity to take advantage of both circumstances in the western United States.
Total market demand is reported as 1.2 billion pounds per year. Since only 800 million pounds are processed in the USA, consumers are forced to look at wide spec virgin PET (virgin resin that is outside of spec but still usable) which is normally sold at a discount to virgin prices, but still higher than recycled (RPET) pricing. Some manufacturers are also forced to import materials from Mexico, India and South America. Some converters are being forced to use more expensive virgin resin.
The current pricing for virgin resin is $0.65-0.73 per lb. and $0.42-.53 for RPET flake. The spread between the two has traditionally been maintained at approximately $0.20 per lb.
PET Film & Sheet
The total reported market of extruded film and sheet is 872 million pounds, of which identified industry usage of RPET is 160 million pounds.
The reported market demand (to replace virgin PS, PVC and PET) if RPET was available is estimated at 1 billion pounds.
Current pricing for RPET sheet is $0.70-0.79 per lb.
The total reported domestic plastic strapping market is 240 million pounds. Of this market, industry usage of virgin polypropylene is 132 million pounds and of PET is 108 million pounds.
It is generally accepted in the industry that less expensive strapping made from RPET could not only take over the polypropylene strapping market, but convert as much of the much larger and more expensive steel strapping market as RPET strapping was available.
Current pricing for RPET strapping is $0.90 -1.08 per lb.
The primary market can be broken down as follows.
Consumers of PET in:
Consumers of HDPE in:
All information is based on industry research,and data provided by the American Plastics Council.
Currently there is no direct competition in the western United States for either of the two divisions of the Company. Any production in the trading area remains captive and not available to our target market.
The ability of the Company to obtain a source of post-consumer bottle stock is an integral component of the strategy to vertically integrate operations and manufacture products in demand by western consuming industries. Without the cleaning and refining division, it would be difficult to source sufficient RPET flake resin at costs that would allow the Company to be competitive.
Limited Supply of raw material
Recycled PET (RPET) resins are in high demand, and demand is currently under-supplied. Many manufacturers are delaying expansion because of uncertainty of supply. Entrants would have to consider sourcing post-consumer or post-industrial waste and clean and refine it rather than attempting to purchase flake on the open market. Even at that, there is not an over-abundance of post-consumer or post industrial material in the marketplace.
Equipment costs are high and industry specific, resulting in a high exit cost.
Because of the scarcity of RPET flake, entrants may be forced to establish cleaning and refining facilities for post-consumer bottles. The equipment required is costly and very industry specific. It would not easily be re-sold as a system.
There is a market for used extrusion equipment, which normally sees 60-70% of new value being realized.
Vertical integration is an important consideration and difficult to accomplish successfully.
Because of the scarcity of RPET resin, and to maximize profit potential, entrants must consider a two-stage production facility. Cleaning and refining post-consumer bottles and extruding the resulting flake into commercial products requires a management team such as Replay has, with a broad range of expertise, experience, industry contacts and knowledge in both areas.
Firm contracts for supply and sales.
Replay Management's industry contacts will allow us to secure contracts for both supply of feed stock and sale of finished goods.
Freight is a major cost of operations; proximity to source of supply and markets is crucial.
Hauling plastic materials is expensive so entrants will have to consider establishing facilities close to materials and markets. Entrants with existing operations would have to consider new separate facilities in many cases, reducing economies of scale and making management more difficult.
There has been a strong demand (sellers' market) for our products for several years. Traditional buying patterns in this industry are based on quality, price, reputation of manufacturer, freight costs, delivery times and proximity to markets. During such a sellers' market, buying patterns are often more influenced by availability.
Currently in the western United States, there is no direct competition for cleaning and refining post-consumer or post-industrial PET. Nor is there any non-captive extrusion of roll stock sheet.
The extruded sheet required by thermoformers is currently supplied by:
In a news release dated September 10, 2004, Itec Environmental Group, Inc. announced their intention to open a PET and High Density Polyethelene (HDPE) recycling operation in Riverbank, CA (east of San Francisco). The news release states that the Company's new and yet unproven technology lets it work with bottle streams that others have to reject as too dirty. This Company is familiar to our Management, and is not considered a significant factor in any of our markets.