December 20, 2019 | Source: CRTC

Friday, October 5th was the second day of Association of Washington Business (AWB)’s cross-state Manufacturing Week 2018 Bus Tour and the day started in Port Angeles with a visit to the new Composite Recycling Technology Center. The facility, which shares space with Peninsula College, turns scrap aerospace carbon fiber into new products including park benches and skateboards. Students at the school can earn degrees and certificates in advanced manufacturing and composites.

The nonprofit, research-drive CRTC aims to divert some of the 50 million pounds of composite material that goes into landfills globally each year, CEO David Walter told the AWB tour members and several local leaders who joined the tour at the Port Angeles stop. “That’s a beautiful material — space-age, aerospace-grade scrap,” Walter said.

Among the wide-ranging ideas CRTC is exploring for recycled composites: creating a composite wood/carbon fiber I-beam that is both strong and light. Among the 17 employees at CRTC is Amber Hartman, who said she appreciates being part of a manufacturer that is helping solve environmental problems. “I love it,” she said about her job on the production floor, where she was helping make recycled carbon fiber components for a portable Pickleball court.

From there, the bus headed south toward the Port Townsend Paper Company. The Kraft paper mill, which is the largest private employer in Jefferson County and one of the largest recyclers in the state, was idle for a scheduled maintenance but AWB’s team was able to tour the facility along with state Reps. Mike Chapman and Steve Tharinger. Also joining the tour for that stop was Brian Kuh, executive director for the Economic Development Council of Jefferson County.

The motto of Port Townsend Paper Corp.: “We are local people sustainably making international products since 1927.”The bus rolled south down the Olympic Peninsula in the afternoon and met up with Walmart’s Debbie Herron at the Walmart in Shelton. Several “Refresh Stops” are planned throughout the tour at Walmart locations around the state. AWB Vice President Gary Chandler spoke to a group of managers at the Shelton Walmart, describing how AWB’s push to support Washington-made goods fits with Walmart’s $250 billion commitment to sell more made-in-America items on its shelves.

With the crew refreshed and ready to go, the bus ventured up a steep, muddy logging road on Green Diamond Resources land near Shelton. State Sen. Tim Sheldon, along with state Reps. Mike Chapman and Drew MacEwan, formed an informal bipartisan delegation for the trip and a discussion that touched on Green Diamond’s century-plus history in Mason County under five generations of family ownership.

The day ended with a tour through one of the newest and biggest mills in the country, the Sierra Pacific Industries mill in Shelton. The company recently finished a $100 million investment to completely rebuild and revamp the property, which has been home to a timber mill in one form or another since 1890. Unlike old days, where 30 percent or more of a log would be wasted, the new mill finds uses for every part of the log as its proprietary computerized systems quickly analyze, sort, mill and process 180 log trucks worth of logs a day. “Virtually every flake is used for something,” said Lisa Perry of Sierra Pacific Industries.

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