US Extruders Inc. hopes plastic makes perfect for new products

NOTHING BUT NET: From left, U.S. Extruders Inc. Plant Manager Wade Lippo and assemblers Lexus Falcone and Dan Brownhead work with fishing net. 
PBN PHOTO/RUPERT WHITELEY
NOTHING BUT NET: From left, U.S. Extruders Inc. Plant Manager Wade Lippo and assemblers Lexus Falcone and Dan Brownhead work with fishing net. 
PBN PHOTO/RUPERT WHITELEY

PBN Innovative Companies 2022
MANUFACTURING: U.S. Extruders Inc.


THE OCEANS OF THE WORLD contain islands of plastics and other garbage. Westerly-based manufacturer U.S. Extruders Inc. is intent on changing that.

U.S. Extruders’ core business is designing and building custom extruders – a type of plastic processing machine – for the medical, automotive and construction industries. Recently, USX secured an innovation voucher award from the R.I. Commerce Corp. to focus on end-of-life fishing nets by transforming these nets into recycled plastic pellets that could be used for new products.

Gill nets are made of Nylon 6 plastic, while today’s fishing nets are primarily composed of polypropylene and polyethylene plastics. USX established a proof-of-concept processing operation focusing on the recycling of fishing nets.

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The company created a project white paper detailing the benefits of recycling and the process required to recycle fishing nets.

In conjunction with the University of Rhode Island Coastal Resources Center at the Graduate School of Oceanography, the College of Engineering, Commercial Fisheries Research Foundation, Commercial Fisheries Center of Rhode Island and other partners, USX is moving to extrude plastics found in fishing nets to produce recycled plastic pellets. These pellets can be used to produce new products.

USX Marketing Manager Eric Adair says the company is aware of the issues surrounding the concerns of plastic recycling, and feels that environmental, social and governance policies are important to its customers and employees.

“That said, we instituted a fishing net recycling project in an attempt to help create a circular economy for end-of-life nets that are located in many of our fishing ports or abandoned on the ocean bottom,” Adair said.

Funding from the R.I. Commerce innovation voucher program helped the company make the decision to advance the project, Adair said.

“We are currently collecting old fishing nets and preparing them to be extruded soon after we have our process line assembled and ready to go,” he said.

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