Neville Browne sees great future in plastic bottle recycling

Neville Browne, 67, is president and chief operating officer of CarbonLite Recycling in Century City. In that role, he has a hand in overseeing the largest plastic bottle recycling plant in the U.S., in Riverside County. At 220,000 square feet, and with $50 million in machinery and equipment, the facility has the capacity to recycle 100 million pounds of used plastic bottles a year. The plant employs 130 people, producing food-grade post-consumer recycled polyethylene terephthalate, or PET pellets.

Bottles become bottles: "Bails of dirty bottles come in. We initially wash the whole bottle," Browne said. "We then chop it up into corn-flake-like material. We then intensively wash those corn flakes. Then we dry it and put it into reactors where we reduce it to a molten state. We extrude it like spaghetti, then chop it up into smaller pieces that look like rice. Those little pellets are what gets resold to PepsiCo. and Nestle Waters North America, and they use them to make new bottles."

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