For two decades, Northwest Polymers has purchased waste plastic, turning it into pellets that can be reused to make decking, fencing and more. Its products are sold in every U.S. mainland state and throughout Canada. But owner Mark Shuholm was looking for a way to keep some of that further manufacturing, and the jobs it creates, in Oregon.

“The idea was to develop an outlet, or a home, for our recycled resins,” he said. He found the answer in the rapid expansion of data centers and broadband infrastructure in Oregon. Facebook, for example, has a new data center in Prineville. So does Apple. “All that’s connected by conduit,” Shuholm said. “It’s like a huge spiderweb reaching across the entire United States, based in Prineville.”

Shuholm’s company figured out how to make conduit, which houses the fiber used for broadband, out of its recycled plastic pellets. Two years ago, it opened a sister company, Cascade Poly Pipe and Conduit in Woodburn. Cascade Poly now employs 28 people, and uses about a quarter of the four million pounds of pellets per month produced by Northwest Polymers.

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Author: Tracey Loew, Salem Statesman Journal
Image: Brian Hayes, Salem Statesman Journal