Poly-Pacific digs for nylon treasure

September 16, 2008   by Kim Laudrum

Municipal landfills like this one could yield valuable, reclaimable commodities, such as nylon.

Poly-Pacific International Inc. is awaiting results of a feasibility study and approvals from authorities, but if everything is a go, it’s poised to commence open-pit mining of a resource-rich site for a haul worth a potential $46 million on worldwide markets. It’s not gold or uranium, but yet another about-to-skyrocket material identified by gold-guru investor Jim Dines: industrial waste.

In this case the material is polyamide or nylon 6/6, used to make toothbrushes, pantyhose, fishing line and parachutes. It’s an incredibly strong material, built to last hundreds of years before it shows any signs of degradation. And if the Edmonton-based company’s due diligence works out, there is more than 20 million pounds (10.4 million kilograms) of nylon in its virgin commercial form, dumped in a Kingston, Ont. municipal landfill site just waiting to be reclaimed.

The worldwide market for nylon is expected to increase by 40% by 2015 as the industries that consume it grow. They include the automotive sector, which is the largest nylon consumer at 45%, followed by electrical and electronics, consumer and institutional goods, packaging and industrial products.

While the demand for nylon increases, the cost of producing the polymer is also expected to rise with the cost of petroleum—derivatives of which are one of nylon’s main ingredients and now reaching an unprecedented $139 per barrel. With supply tightening, finding, mining and recycling nylon, which fetches anywhere from $1.20 to $1.80 per pound on worldwide markets in its pelletized form, suddenly makes economic sense.

The folks at Poly-Pacific understand the impact petroleum can have on the cost of engineered resins, such as plastics and nylon. The firm, founded in 1995, was a supplier of plastic blast media used for paint stripping until costs for plastics escalated and starch-based blast media took over the market. So Poly-Pacific reinvented itself in 2006. Instead of buying engineered resins, it would supply them. The company is publicly traded on the TSX Canadian Venture Exchange, the NASDAQ Over the Counter Bulletin Board and the German Stock Exchange and its 10 employees, which includes consultants investigating reclamation of industrial wastes (specifically polymers and nylon), operate mostly in North America.

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