Frank Endrenyi has been involved with the carpet industry since 1974 and comes to CARE with a wealth of experience. Among his many career accomplishments, including the development of three patents, Frank served as the Vice President of Marketing, Vice President of Product Development and Vice President of Sustainable Development during his distinguished career at Mohawk Industries. As the VP of Sustainable Development Frank was responsible for the development of Mohawk’s signature GreenWorksTM program.
Frank first brought his expertise in reducing, reusing, recycling and renewing to CARE all the way back at the beginning in 2002. From CARE’s formative year up until 2009, Frank served on the board as an industry representative, playing an integral role in the organization’s growth and development.
In December of 2009 Frank left Mohawk Industries and his board position at CARE to form his own company, Sustainable Materials Solutions. Frank was not away from CARE for long however. In early 2010 he returned to the board as an independent entrepreneurial advisor and chairman of CARE’s PET Opportunities sub-team.
The PET opportunities sub-team was formed in response to the growing portion of PET fiber that constitutes the post-consumer carpet stream. As the team delved into market research it became evident that finding viable outlets for PET required significantly more time than they could volunteer. Accordingly, in June of this year the CARE Board issued a request for proposal for a PET project leader.
Frank began his one-year contract in mid-July and he is very excited about his new opportunity. Through the course of Frank’s impressive career he has been very successful in helping companies find and develop recycling technologies for Nylon 6 and 6,6 fibers, and, as he pointed out in a recent conversation, “the skills I developed while working with Nylon are directly applicable to what now needs to happen for PET.”
However, unlike his work with Nylon, Frank is well aware that PET does not have the benefit of a ready-made market. That is, once post consumer carpet recyclers figured out how to purify post-consumer Nylon 6 and Nylon 6,6 fibers, the fibers already had various outlets in the plastics industry including appliances, automotive parts, etc. The absence of these existing markets for processed PET carpet fiber is what Frank called his “biggest hurdle and challenge”; basically, unlike Nylon, the cost of virgin PET is much lower; and that, coupled with lack of abundant present end use markets, makes PET carpet recycling a challenge.
This value hurdle is an increasingly important one to clear. In 2012 PET fiber made up 25% of the post-consumer carpet stream and Frank expects it to grow up to 45% in the next five years. Fortunately, Frank’s entrepreneurial personality sees only opportunity. Frank describes his strategy for the next year as a three-prong approach.
First, Frank plans to generate a list of all the possible technologies that could be used to recycle PET fiber into various purities; essentially making a database that identifies processes, costs and outputs.
Second, he aims to match outputs with potential end users. That is, not all outlets of post-consumer PET fiber will require PET of the utmost purity. For the economics to work, Frank sees the process of matching the physical properties of various purities to the price and quality needs of various products as essential.
Third, after identifying the right end use products to match varying process technologies’ outputs, he must work with companies to develop these markets. Frank will focus his energy wherever the conditions are ripe. Once local markets are established the key will be to expand developments across the nation.
CARE also recently initiated a new non-nylon incentive for users of fiber output derived from California post-consumer carpet. While program details are still being finalized, CARE believes this is yet another catalyst to aid Frank in his important work.
Overall Frank is very optimistic about the future of PET and sees his previous experience with Nylon as directly applicable to the task at hand; “My ultimate goal is to identify and develop a variety of high value PET markets that can take millions and millions of pounds per year.”
CARE is as excited as Mr. Endrenyi and looks forward to reporting advances in the coming year!