November 24, 2014

Company in NE Nebraska uses byproduct from ethanol in making plastic

A company in northeast Nebraska is ramping up production of pellets and powder used in making plastic.

Laurel BioComposite in Laurel makes the products from distiller’s grain — a byproduct of making ethanol.

CEO Tim Bearnes says the company is forging ahead, thanks to a $5-million local bank loan and another $7-million from a USDA rural development loan.

“What we completed is phase one, our first production line, which will do an annual capacity of around 7-million pounds of output,” Bearnes says. “Phase two is under construction right now and brings in our second production line which should be completed around the first of the year and take us to about 60-million pounds of capacity.”

Bearnes says they get the raw materials from another company in northeast Nebraska.

“We buy the distiller’s grain from Husker Ag in Plainview, they’re a key partner with us to process on this end,” Bearnes says. “We make a product that blends into a variety of plastics manufacturing processes. We replace a portion of traditional resins like polyethlenes.” Those traditional resins are petroleum-based and they can be offset by the pellets, which come from corn.

Bearnes says most of the customers they serve are in the United States but they also work with companies in New Zealand and recently participated in Governor Heineman’s trade mission to China.

By Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton