Michigan-based manufacturer Dart Container Corporation has invested in new technology that will power a portion of its Leola plant in Lancaster, PA plant off of methane gas produced by area landfills. The $21 million investment has been made towards two combustion turbines which now generate 45 percent of the plant’s weekday electricity needs, as well as enough heat to make 85 percent of the plant’s steam needs. Dart is the world’s largest manufacturer of polystyrene foam products, which is commonly referred to as Styrofoam®, a registered trademark of the Dow Chemical Company.
The new investment falls in line with Dart’s already far-reaching recycling and conservation programs. Dart officials note that the turbine initiative in particular saves on the use of natural gas and resources, and improves the over-all air quality of surrounding areas. Methane gas is piped in with the help of Granger Energy Systems, who compresses, filters and dries it before it reaches the Dart plant. Methane is pumped from the neighboring Lancaster Landfill outside of Narvon, PA, as well as the Conestoga Landfill near Morgantown, WV.
Not only is this initiative environmentally friendly, but also cost effective. It has been estimated that the turbines will pay for themselves within the next five to eight years. While methane gas has been a part of the Leola plant’s operation for nearly ten years, the turbines were just instated as fully operational within the last month. The turbines not only generate enough electricity to power the plant, but also 60,000 pounds of steam per hour, which is then used in the production of foam foodservice items.
The additions of these turbines add to the continuing efforts of Dart to develop new environmentally friendly initiatives. Dart has also implemented other programs to continually promote the importance of polystyrene recycling to consumers and businesses alike. The CARE (Cups Are REcyclable) and Recycla-Pak programs, for example, make it easy for any organization to recycle single-use foam cups. The CARE program provides participants with a densifying device to compress foam waste, which is then collected by manufacturers to be made into new products.