Green Manufacturer Moves From China to New York

Trellis Earth Products, which makes bioplastic serviceware, is moving its manufacturing operations from China to Rochester, NY to get closer to customers and cut costs.

In an interesting switch, Trellis joins a growing list of manufacturers who are leaving China because of rising energy and labor costs, including from their domestic solar industry.

Since Trellis sells mostly to US customers, transporting finished goods back to the US cancelled out any benefits of being located in China. 

Trellis makes over 100 non-petroleum products, such as forks, knives and spoons for food service companies looking for green alternatives to disposable plastics.

Bioplastic Cutlery

These bioplastic products – made from plant starch – are distributed by major food service companies in the U.S. to over 1,000 customers nationally.

By end of this summer, Trellis will break ground on an 80,000-square foot facility in Rochester Technology Park. The company will gear up to manufacture more than 50 million forks, knives and spoons a month, along with flexible products such as  clamshells, school lunch trays and plates. It starts production by the end of next year.

Trellis will be the first bioplastics company to make branded goods in a vertically integrated facility that takes raw materials through all phases of production for food service customers. 

"Trellis, as an industry leader, is committed to creating jobs here at home," says CEO Mike Senzaki. "We see the value of being a New York-based manufacturing company where we can be close to our major markets while having access to the resources and support services we need to launch a world-class manufacturing facility."

One reason Trellis chose to locate in NY is because it "was highly motivated and looking for green, high-technology companies," COO Craig Mittelstaedt told Plastics News.

Empire State Development offered Trellis an incentive package with direct ties to job creation and contributions to the local economy. In exchange for $1.5 million in tax credits and a $500,000 capital grant, Trellis will invest $8.3 million and create  189 full time jobs by June 2018. The county is also helping through $500,000 in low interest financing, up to $300,000 in an interest subsidies, $50,000 for training and possible rebates on equipment purchases. 

Sustainable packaging is a growth industry forecast to reach $142.42 billion globally by 2015.

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