Two Pennsylvania-based companies plan to pipe into the Marcellus Shale supply chain by using their new systems to recycle well liners.
The venture between WellSpring Environmental Services in Orwigsburg and Ultra-Poly Corporation in Portland will contribute benefits to the economy and the environment. The new partnership will generate 80 or more jobs for Ultra-Poly; WellSpring will add another dozen employees.
WellSpring Environmental Services is expected to remove at least 20 million pounds of plastic that would go into landfills. The company has developed special equipment for separating well pad liners on site so the pieces from one well site can be trucked away for recycling in a single trailer load. In the past, excavators were used to rip well pad liners into large sections, and then it typically took eight to 10 trips with roll-off containers to take the sections from a single site to a landfill for disposal.
“There’s not one well pad in Pennsylvania where this new approach doesn’t make sense,” said Jonas Kreitzer, president of WellSpring.
Once the liners are removed, Ultra-Poly Corporation will use a special process to create re-usable material that will be made into industrial products. The company designed a proprietary process for processing the liner material and has built a recycling plant specifically for that purpose.
A video of the liner recycling process is featured on WellSpring’s website at http://getwe.co/.
According to a study by Carnegie Museum of Natural History’s Powdermill Nature Reserve, since 2000 the state has permitted 9,848 Marcellus Shale wells, of which 6,391 are either drilled and/or producing. There are currently 2,457 active permits that could eventually be drilled. An estimated 100 million pounds of high-density plastic were used for well pad liners by drillers in the Marcellus Shale region in 2011. These are numbers that offer great business potential to WellSpring and Ultra-Poly.
“We are supplying the recycled plastic to several existing customers, including Axion International, which turns the material into composite railroad ties and other composite building components,” said David LaFiura, vice president of Ultra-Poly. “The market is potentially huge, we have developed an environmentally responsible method, we are the only company doing this, and we are in position to recycle as much of the liner material as we can get.”
Both companies have been applauded for their efforts to take an opportunity and use it to add jobs and better the environment.
State Department of Community and Economic Development Secretary C. Alan Walker said that today’s announcement “represents the success that can be achieved when agencies, companies and markets work together in a way that benefits all Pennsylvanians. This venture is a win for everyone – 80 new jobs will be created and a cleaner environment will result from this creative reclamation and recycling initiative.”
The Pennsylvania Recycling Markets Center, Inc. (RMC) Executive Director Robert J. Bylone, Jr. said, “This is a first-of-its-kind venture that will produce major and dramatic benefits for Pennsylvania in addition to new jobs and growth for the companies directly. We think this will have tremendous application and value for the shale gas industry in Pennsylvania, as well as elsewhere. That alone will have a beneficial impact on our economy. It also gives a very big boost to our recycling industry in Pennsylvania, which is growing by leaps and bounds. In addition, it will save landfill space and will cut down on truck traffic, which everyone applauds.”
DEP has already issued permits to the two companies for the process.