Recycling company launches Bulloch County factory build
Executives from revalyu Resources, a German-owned plastics recycling company whose established plant is in India, gathered offsite with local and state officials Thursday afternoon, Jan. 26, to launch construction of a PET recycling plant in Gateway Regional Industrial Park south of Statesboro.
Polyethylene terephthalate is the same substance known as polyester when formed into fibers used in fabrics, but it is generally referred to as PET when used to make bottles for bottled water and other beverages. Company officials say the plant here will recycle 100% post-consumer material at a potential rate of about 12 million bottles each day.
This plant is expected to create at least 71 production jobs in its first phase, the phase covered in revalyu’s current agreement with the Development Authority of Bulloch County, or DABC. The company has committed to a $50 million investment in building and equipment to make this happen.
Revalyu has been supplying its product – chemically recycled PET “chips” or pellets that can be made into new consumer products – to manufacturers in the United States for six years now, said the company’s Managing Director Jan van Kisfeld.
“Based from India we have supplied them, and that was one of the reasons why we now have the ability to bring actually the production closer to our customers,” he said. “So as their demand grows, also our ability to expand to the U.S. makes fuller sense.”
The company’s choice of the Statesboro and Bulloch County site followed “three months of intensive search” and also some serious negotiations with the Development Authority, he said.
The company now known as revalyu Resources, but which was originally called perPETual, was founded in 2007 by Vivek Tandon, Ph.D., and a co-founder.
Originally, its corporate headquarters was in the Indian Ocean island nation of Mauritius, but the processing plant was and remains in India. The plant in India can currently process 40 metric tons of PET a day, but is being expanded to process 240 metric tons, while the U.S. plant here will be able tor process 100 metric tons daily, Tandon said.
In contrast to the mechanical and heating processes used so far in PET recycling in the United States, he said, revalyu practices true chemical recycling. Tandon did not speak during the ceremony but was interviewed afterward.
“What we have in revalyu is truly chemical recycling,” Tandon said. “That means that we take a plastic bottle, and rather than just mechanically cleaning it, we actually use chemistry to break the bottle back down into the original chemical materials that can be used to make plastic.”
Heraeus Group, a holding company based in Germany that was already invested in recycling, purchased a majority interest in revalyu – which spells its brand name all lower-case – about a year and a half ago.
Andre Kobelt, managing director of Heraeus, spoke during Thursday’s ceremony, expressing confidence that the plant “will be operational” 18 months from now. A timeline on display projected completion by the beginning of the third quarter of 2024, which would be that July 1.
When asked about this, Kisfeld noted that the actual completion date will depend on factors such as the availability of materials.
Other speakers included Barton Lowery of the Georgia Department of Economic Development, Bulloch County Commission Chairman Roy Thompson, Statesboro City Manager Charles Penny, Development Authority of Bulloch County CEO Benjy Thompson and DABC Chair Billy Allen.
The event to launch the plant’s construction was held inside the Engineering and Research Building at Georgia Southern University instead of at the future factory site on U.S. Highway 301 South. The site is near the former East Georgia State College-Statesboro campus.
Revalyu’s planned build was one of four Bulloch County industrial plant site selections announced by the DABC, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and the Georgia Department of Economic Development during the previous 11 months. Together, the four companies promise to create, eventually, more than 1,400 jobs at these sites.
While two of the companies set to build at sites offered by the DABC will be suppliers to the Hyundai Motor Group electric vehicle “Meta Plant” in northern Bryan County, the other two, including revalyu Resources, are not connected to the Hyundai project. Smallest of the four projects, the revalyu deal was announced directly by the DABC in December, rather than by the governor.
The 41-acre site for the recycling plant is on the western side of U.S. Highway 301 and 25, while the other three sites announced for development are on the eastern side.
As with other industrial projects, the tax-exempt DABC will retain formal ownership of the site for a period of years in order to provide a “tax savings” or partial abatement. In this case, it will be a 100% exemption from the Bulloch County government portion of property taxes for 10 years followed by a 50% exemption for five years.
But, from the first, the company is expected to make payments equal to the school district and fire protection taxes.