A plastics recycler plans to create about 125 jobs at the former Visteon auto plant in Connersville.

NOVA Chemicals Corporation, a Canada-based producer of “sustainable” polyethylene, announced plans last week to create its first mechanical recycling facility at 4747 N. Western Ave.

NOVA Chemicals will build out and equip about 450,000 square feet of the 1.7 million-square-foot factory on 186 acres. Workers will process post-consumer plastic films, such as pallet wrap and flexible packaging, to produce recycled polyethylene (rPE) at commercial scale.

Plastic film will be cleaned, chopped and remelted into small plastic pellets (pictured) that are used to make new products, such as packaging for food and drink, e-commerce, heavy-duty sacks and shrink wrap. Supplied

Plastic film will be cleaned, chopped and remelted into small plastic pellets used to make new products, such as packaging for food and drink, e-commerce, heavy-duty sacks and shrink wrap.

Once fully operational, the facility will be one of the largest private employers in Connersville. Hiring will begin in the second half of 2024, and the company’s salary average will be above Fayette County’s current average, according to a news release from Indiana Economic Development Corp.  

Officials said Connersville was strategically selected because of its access to abundant feedstock supply of post-consumer films from nearby metropolitan areas and its easy-to-access rail service for distribution of recycled materials to the company’s customers.

Operations are to begin as early as 2025. Workers could deliver more than 100 million pounds of rPE by 2026.

The facility will be operated by Novolex Holdings LLC, which IEDC described as a leading developer of packaging products for food service and industrial markets. IEDC says the company has 15 years of experience in operating plastic film recycling facilities.

“Indiana has long been a hub for sustainability, innovation and business,” said Novolex Chairman and CEO Stanley Bikulege in the release.

He said the new plant would build on the company’s experience operating both its North Vernon (Indiana) plastics recycling facility and recycling plant in Wisconsin.

An interior view of the former Visteon and Wayzata Home Products plant at 4747 N. Western Ave. in Connersville that will now be home to a plastics recycling facility. Supplied

“Indiana is laser-focused on building a high-tech, sustainable economy of the future, and this new mechanical recycling facility is a perfect fit for powering our circular economy,” said Indiana Secretary of Commerce Brad Chambers in the release.

Chambers called the announcement a significant development for the region, and said state officials “look forward to the impact it will have on Hoosier jobs and prosperity for years to come.”

NOVA Chemicals, which is headquartered in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, employs nearly 2,500 associates worldwide and is wholly owned by Mubadala Investment Company of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

Based on the company’s job creation plans, IEDC committed an investment in NOVA Circular Solutions and Novolex of up to $1.4 million in the form of incentive-based tax credits and up to $100,000 in training grants. These tax credits are performance-based, meaning the company is eligible to claim incentives once workers are hired and investments are made.

The city of Connersville offered additional incentives and Duke Energy approved incentives to offset a portion of the energy costs.

Phoenix Investors acquired the plant in November 2021. In a news release at that time, David Marks, Phoenix’s president and CEO, said the property would be renovated in a “first-class manner” and “restore it to its greatness.”

“Given its unique infrastructure and proximity to major manufacturing hubs, we are confident we will attract high-quality companies to the property,” Marks said at that time.

The plant’s first phase was built by Philco Corp. in 1953, which was acquired by Ford in the 1960s and was spun off as Visteon in 2000, which closed in 2007.

Since 2013, one-third of the building has been home to CliqStudios Cabinets. Wayzata Home Products announced on March 13, 2020, that it was ceasing operations immediately.

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A version of this article appeared in the July 26 2023 print edition of the Western Wayne News.

Millicent Martin Emery is a reporter and editor for the Western Wayne News.