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February 1, 2010

Local company to add 60 jobs

Within a year of beginning production in Athens in January 2009, Custom Polymers PET was planning its expansion.

Construction workers at the newest of the company’s three local sites on Wilkinson Street are busily adding a rail facility to aid in shipping, and company officials plan to add 60 new jobs, said spokeswoman Sharon Geiger.

And while those plans are not contingent on receiving an up to $8 million federal grant for which the company applied, Geiger said it will “speed things up.”

Congressman Parker Griffith, R-Huntsville, Athens Mayor Dan Williams and Limestone County Economic Development Association President Tom Hill visited the plant Friday in support of Custom Polymers application for the Energy Efficiency Conservation Block Grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, Geiger said.

“Everyone seems to be behind us because this is not just good for the environment and a huge savings in energy but it means adding local jobs,” Geiger said.

Hill said with the economy still “waking up” after a bleak 18 months, the company’s expansion is good news for the community.

“We’re really thrilled with that,” he said. “We’re happy to see them take advantage of some federal dollars for something that is supportive of our environment.”

Custom Polymer recycles plastic water and soft drink bottles and other food packaging made of PET (polyethylene terephthalate) to create pellets that are then sold to manufacturers. The majority of the company’s contracts come from manufacturers of food packaging but Geiger said the pellets are also used to create fibers for such items as carpeting.

Receiving the grant will have huge impact, Geiger said.

“The positive environmental impact will be substantial in that 60 percent less energy is expended to produce recycled PET versus virgin PET, saving the energy equivalent of 27,273,516 gallons of gas per year,” she said. “In addition to the energy savings, production of recycled PET versus virgin PET reduces green house gas by 35 percent. These are impacts on the world.”

Geiger said she is unsure when the company will receive word on the grant but “hopefully, it won’t be too long.”

Custom Polymers has facilities on Lucas Ferry, Elm and Wilkinson streets.

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