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F-D-S now uses 99 percent recycled PET plastic, recycles waste heat

F-D-S Manufacturing Co. in Pomona, CA. which manufactures clamshells and other packaging for grapes and other produce, is now able to use about 99 percent recycled PET plastic in its manufacturing processes, according to President Robert (Bob) Stevenson.

In some cases, “we are able to run 100 percent recycled PET now,” he said.

In addition to using recycled products as feedstock for manufacturing, the company also enhances its environmental sustainability practices by recycling heat in its manufacturing processes.

024-CalGrapes-FDSGrape clamshells in assorted sizes from F-D-S. (Photo courtesy of F-D-S)“We are co-generating electricity” using natural gas to drive turbines, he said. In doing so, “we collect all the waste heat and utilize that in the plastic [manufacturing] process and the cooling process. Rather than solar, we have opted to go with turbines. We put in 400,000 kilowatt capacity turbines on site” and use the heat in the process of making plastic sheet in the plant. “Then we thermoform that sheet, then recycle all the trim back into the plastic.” The system enabled F-D-S to “shut down more than 400 kilowatts of other motors” and electrical equipment, “so we got two bangs for the buck.”

The efficiencies of the system are very good for the operation, he said, “because during the agricultural seasons, we get going 24 hours a day, seven days a week.” If the company had opted to go with solar generation, it would be “limited to the daytime advantage of it.” The turbine system can be utilized 24 hours a day. “It has worked out real well.”

Clear plastic clamshells are one of the major products F-D-S manufactures for the table grape industry. “We’ve got multiple size clamshells” which include, now, one-pound and two-pound clams in “a couple of different footprints,” eight per layer and 10 per layer, Stevenson said.

A new product for the company is padded clamshells for grapes. “We’ve seen people using padded clamshells for grapes, so we are offering padding” added to the bottom of a grape clamshell, he said. “That is for the East Coast.”

Another new style is a four-pound clamshell for grapes. Actually, it is “our four-pound strawberry clamshell” that people are using for grapes, he said. “It makes a lot of sense, because that is the container that fits in the eight-pound box, and they can get more on a pallet.”

A new product from F-D-S currently under development is a paper punnet suitable for overwrapping with perforated film, Stevenson said. “What allows us to do that is we put in our own system” that can apply water resistant coatings to the paper and water resistant glues “on our single faced corrugated line. We do all of those in-house.”

F-D-S can preprint the containers in two colors and can “die-cut and design in” ventilation on the sides, he said.

“That is not a particularly new item, but it is new for us,” he said.

“If needed, we will develop clear lids “ for the punnets, he added.