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West Kootenay company partners to ‘Close the Loop’ for recycled plastic

KC Recycling is currently recycling over 2,000MT annually of polypropylene
August 4, 2022 – Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy George Heyman and local MLA Brittny Anderson tour KC Recycling’s plastic recycling plant. “We at Metal Tech Alley, are proud to have companies like KC Recycling in our region. This partnership with East Penn Manufacturing will further advance the area as leaders in Industrial Circular Economy,” says Jacomien van Tonder, director, Metal Tech Alley. Photo: Submitted

Along with bringing jobs to the Trail area, KC Recycling is making a world of difference in the recycling of plastics.

Based in the outskirts of the city on Waneta Highway, the company most recently started recycling the hard plastic that encases lead batteries.

“Most automotive batteries have a polypropylene case,” explains Pete Stamper, KC Recycling, chief executive officer.

“At KC Recycling, we separate that plastic, wash it, grind it, and pelletize it. The final product is a high quality polypropylene pellet resin which is the raw ingredient for new automotive battery cases.”

Before this, Stamper says this particular type of scrap plastic was exported to plastic compounders in the United States where it had to be blended with other resins for their customers.

“Now there is no blending involved and our plastic goes directly back into the manufacture of battery cases,” he said.

KC Recycling is currently recycling over 2,000MT (metric tonnes) annually of polypropylene from automotive battery cases.

In addition to being a steward for “preserving a sustainable world for future generations,” the company has become a key employer.

“Since opening our plastic extrusion plant in March 2022, we have hired four new people who keep the plant running seven days a week,” Stamper said. “It’s great for our region to build our expertise in battery and plastic recycling, which are both top of mind circular economy issues today.”

In business since 1977, KC Recycling has grown to become the largest lead acid battery (car battery) recycler in Western Canada and the Pacific Northwest of the United States. In addition to lead acid batteries and polypropylene recycling, the company processes electronics and cathode ray tube glass, and sells all commodities generated by its operations, including aluminum, copper, plastic, and steel.

Aerial view of KC Recycling. Photo: Submitted
Aerial view of KC Recycling. Photo: Submitted

This latest venture of recycling polypropylene is in partnership with East Penn Manufacturing, a top lead battery manufacturer located in Iowa.

East Penn sends spent lead batteries to KC Recycling’s facility where the components are separated and recycled. KC’s new extrusion line recycles 100 per cent of the plastic in such a way to meet East Penn’s exacting specifications for polypropylene resin.

The companies expect their partnership to recycle a significant amount of plastic annually, turning this particular plastic waste into a new raw material resource. Stamper said this project has caught the attention of the public and policy makers as a benchmark for solving the challenges of plastic recycling.

“The 75-person strong team at KC Recycling is extremely proud of our new plastic plant,” he adds. “In the coming years we expect to double or triple our production by incorporating new post-consumer plastic products such as car seats, paint buckets, and more lead batteries.”

Read more: Trail company expands to recycle all of Canada’s CRT glass

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Sheri Regnier

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