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Growing Star Plastics adding equipment, seeking acquisitions

Materials firm Star Plastics is promoting two new product lines as it prepares to add machinery and production capacity in 2023.

Ravenswood, W.Va.-based Star recently launched Orion-brand engineered resins and reNova-brand recycled resins.

In a Feb. 6 phone interview, Star CEO Donald Wiseman said that the new product lines resulted from the company's history — it was founded as a recycler more than 30 years ago — and from customers' requests for sustainable materials in the current circular economy.

"We're really strong in electrical and electronic, and we worked with UL to get recycling approvals, which is a long process," Wiseman said. "We've also done a lot of work with our suppliers and supply chain. Our materials undergo more than 50 tests before they leave the plant."

Star's reNova recycled materials encompass UL Environment-certified polymers, UL-listed fire-retardant materials, custom colors and either post-industrial or post-consumer content. They also can contain material recycled from information technology equipment or ocean-bound plastics.

Applications for the new materials include electrical boxes, face plates and home entry systems. They can be based on as much as 100 percent recycled post-industrial or post-consumer grades of polycarbonate, ABS, PC/ABS blends, nylon 6 or nylon 6/6.

Wiseman added that Star has done "a lot of product development work" in nylons 6 and 6/6 for sustainability and in its supply partnership with Italian materials firm Lati Industria Termoplastici SpA.

Star will have two additional twin-screw extrusion lines delivered this year, as well as three lab-scale production lines for color matching and new mixing equipment. The firm is investing $5 million in new equipment.

Star also added two new twin-screw extruders last year and also opened a customer experience center that includes moldflow simulations and molding machines to allow customers to learn more about the firm's specialty compounds.

"We'd like to expand out product lines and do more in automotive and add sales reps," he said regarding the firm's plans for 2023. The firm has increased the size of its production staff by 30 percent since early 2022, Wiseman said.

Star also is looking to grow by making an acquisition. Wiseman said he expects the firm to do a deal this year. Chicago private equity firm Akoya Capital Partners acquired Star in 2021. Akoya officials said at the time that they planned to use Star to make more acquisitions.

Doug Ritchie founded Star in 1988. He now serves as the firm's chief strategy officer. Star's original business was reprocessing ABS scrap for a nearby BorgWarner plant. The firm later moved into recycling and compounding.

Star now does compounding work in PC, ABS and other engineering resins, with a focus on flame-retardant grades. In addition to custom compounding, the firm also offers toll compounding services.

Star operates two plants in West Virginia and also has licensing and production partnerships in China.

Publication date: 07/02/2023

Plastics News - automotive

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Last update: 2022-01-31