rPlanet Earth’s operation in Vernon, California is special because they do not simply convert bottles to flake or pellets for resale like most rPET recyclers.
They convert the flake directly to extruded sheet to make thermoformed parts and injection mold bottle preforms under one roof making their carbon footprint very low.
While gels can be caused by a variety of factors, dust and other fine contaminates are often a primary cause. Recycled bottle flake is notoriously dusty because of the damage caused by grinding containers into a flake, decontamination and the numerous material handling and conveyance steps between the baled post-consumer bottles and the extrusion or injection molding machine.
After discovering that gels were creating quality issues, rPlanet Earth decided to do something about it and contacted Pelletron Corporation in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Pelletron specializes in gentle pneumatic conveying and DeDuster® systems for the plastic processing and plastic production industries. They were already very familiar with rPlanet Earth’s operation since they supplied all the material handling systems from the wash line to the extruder and injection molding machines. Their DeDuster® systems use an electromagnetic flux field coil to disturb the fine dust that is stuck to the flake due to static electricity and counterflow air to separate dust and streamers from the flake. Pelletron’s DeDuster® systems can lower the dust content from over 2,000 ppm concentration of particles between 0-500 micron particle size to less than 200 ppm. Other dust removal systems on the market cannot achieve that level of separation in a package as compact as the DeDuster®.