One man's trash is another man's treasure" is an adage that has interesting applications in the plastics industry.

One of the banes of the industry is that the stuff sticks around forever -- what do you do with the dregs that refuse to decompose?

At least one company in Appalachian Ohio's Perry County has an answer. Newport Plastics, a two-year-old start-up, recycles plastic film from the food packaging industry into plastic table tops. The tops are sold to a Columbus company, which adds legs and a table cloth, then markets the package to discount retailers.

So how do you make a weight-bearing table top out of a flimsy potato chip bag? Bales of film are densified (ground up) and injection-molded into the solid product. Most of the waste film comes to Newport Plastics from plants east of the Rocky Mountians.

Location: Southeastern Ohio, 50 miles from Columbus
Population: 32,300
Road: U.S. 22, Ohio Routes 13, 37, 93. Three miles to I-70
Air: Port Columbus, 30 miles
Major Employers: ITT Automotive (metal tubing); P.C.C. Airfoils (turbine components); Lempco Industries (die sets); Nicofibers (fiberglass); Ludowici Roof Tile (clay roofing tile).

Other "post-consumer" products like ketchup bottles and milk jugs can be cleaned, ground up and turned into horticultural products, such as planting pots and flower trays. Community recycling centers in Southern Ohio and in neighboring Kentucky and West Virginia provide the grist for companies like Newport Plastics.

Bales of plastic film are turned into table tops at Newport Plastics.
Newport Plastics President T. Chris Wilson explains that in finding new uses for plastics, he has to consider products that are not subject to close tolerances, such as auto components. One resource that helps him find the raw materials he needs is the Ohio Valley Plastics Partnership, which brings buyers and sellers in Appalachian counties together.

For a company like Newport Plastics, Perry County's location and wage structure are perfect. "We're within 20 minutes of I-70, within an hour of Columbus and within 10 hours of two-thirds of the nation's population," says Wilson. "It's not tough to put your product in the marketplace."

Another Perry County plastics company, MYCO Corp., is building a new plant in Junction City. The company makes reels for the welding wire industry, plus a variety of other products, such as vials and caps for chemistry sets and plastic storage totes. One advantage the company found in Perry County was highly competitive power rates -- about half of what the company had been paying in its previous location.

Perry County's plastics companies join a diverse base of industry in automotive, food, metal-forming and distribution, attracted by low costs of doing business and the relaxed rural lifestyle. The area is noted for the skills base built up over decades of specialization in ceramics products and pottery.

The county has the support structure necessary for new industry, including a 500-acre industrial park at New Lexington, the county seat. Another tract -- a 150-acre greenfield site less than four miles from I-70 -- has appeal for firms serving the automotive market, including plastics and distribution.
A level, 150-acre site near I-70 has potential for auto, plastics or distribution uses.

A new resource for building skill levels in Perry County is about to open. Hocking College, which is said to have the finest ceramics engineering program in the world, is building a branch campus in Perry County. The College will offer specialized training for Perry County industries.

Northeast Ohio