One of the "byproducts" of the Marcellus Shale gas drilling industry is tons and tons of used well pad liners. Now two companies have begun collecting and recycling the plastic liners from drilling sites throughout the Marcellus region.
WellSpring Environmental Services in Orwigsburg, PA and Ultra-Poly Corporation in Portland, PA hope to take at least 20 million pounds of plastic per year out of the waste stream.
In 2011, an estimated 100 million pounds of high-density plastic was used in well pad liners by Marcellus gas drillers. The companies have developed a proprietary process and special equipment for separating the liners on site. The material is then shipped to a plant specifically designed for the purpose of recycling the plastic.
Robert Bylone, Executive Director and President of the Recycling Markets Center, said in the past, there were only two facilities with the capability of recycling the pad liners.
“One has refused to take this material any longer and another significantly surcharges the generator of the material well beyond what’s a typical price to dispose—upwards of $250 a ton in some cases,” Bylone said.
Approximately 80 new jobs will be created and job security will be provided for roughly 180 existing jobs. An estimated $1 million per year is expected to be added to state and local tax revenues.
Bylone said Pennsylvania has an alarmingly large amount of pad liner plastic that needs to be recycled. “The Statue of Liberty weights 250 tons. So, you have, again, roughly fifteen to twenty thousand tons of this material that is available per year, which for every one thousand tons, that’s equal to four Statue of Liberties (sic),” Bylone said.
The processing plant is now fully functional and is located in the Berwick Industrial Park in Berwick, Pennsylvania.