Manufacturing and Sustainability

Bata Plastics steps into Fox's national spotlight

December 21, 2012
| By Pete Daly |
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Bata Plastics steps into Fox's national spotlight
Bradshaw

“The Environmental Report” — hosted by football great Terry Bradshaw — will air a segment Sunday, Dec. 23 at 4 p.m. ET on Fox Business Network that features three Grand Rapids companies: Bata Plastics, Cascade Engineering and Davidson Plyforms.

The report goes into detail on how Bata Plastics recycles millions of pounds of plastic every year that would otherwise end up in a landfill. Bata cleans and re-processes the waste plastic into pellets that are used again by plastics manufacturers.

Bata, founded in Byron Center in 1985 and now owned by Lee Hammond, is said to be the only plastics recycling company in the U.S. that occupies a 120,000 square foot industrial facility that has been certified LEED Silver. The facility is in a former Steelcase storage facility off 36th Street SE that Bata began renovating in 2007, with the LEED certification awarded in 2010.

Bata has recovered scrap plastic from industrial plants and recycling centers that has ended up as seat backs in the New Orleans Superdome, as well as other famous pro sports stadiums. Some Bata-recycled plastic has been re-born as public picnic tables made by Polly Products LLC, a small manufacturing company near Lansing that makes “green” products.

Scrap from the manufacturing process at Cascade Engineering in Kentwood is picked up by Bata and put back into production elsewhere, as outlined in the video in an interview with Jo Ann Perkins, vice president of environmental systems at Cascade.

Bata “helps us work toward zero waste” at Cascade, she said, referring to the company’s environmental goal of producing no industrial waste that has to be disposed of in a landfill.

Bata has been growing. One year ago it opened a new plant in McAllen, Texas. New employees also have been added to its laboratory here, according to Bata Vice President Matt Hammond, to research new recycled alternatives to the “virgin” plastic resin that many manufacturers still buy from the petrochemical industry.

Hammond said the re-processed plastic can “meet or exceed the specifications they are currently requiring.”

Lee Hammond said plastic that has been recycled more than once tends to react to the heat in re-processing and loses some of its properties. However, Bata’s re-grinding process includes use of chemicals that restores the plastic to its original specifications.

A total of 90 people are now employed by Bata, most in the area and about a dozen or so in Texas.

Bata also buys and re-sells scrap steel, aluminum, paper, corrugated cardboard and boxes.

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