NEW YORK — DuPont is stepping into the recycled polyester business.

Joining Wellman Inc. and Hoechst Celanese in the polyester recycling market, DuPont said that next year it will begin producing a recycled version of the fiber at its Cape Fear Dacron polyester plant, near Wilmington, N.C.

DuPont said it is investing about $12 million to convert an existing dimethyl terephthalate (DMT) production unit, which will utilize waste polyester as a feedstock in place of paraxylene, a key ingredient in producing virgin polyester. The plant will be on-line in 1995, but the company has yet to complete marketing and promotional plans for the product.

Initially, the facility will produce about 100 million pounds of DMT and 30 million pounds of ethylene glycol, another by-product of post-consumer polyester.

“There is a growing consumer interest in buying apparel that contains first-quality recycled polyester,” said Richard J. Angiullo, vice president and general manager, DuPont Dacron.

Angiullo said the recovered materials will be equal in quality to virgin materials, and can produce first-grade polyester products such as Dacron fibers, Mylar polyester film, Cronar polyester base film and Crystar polyester resins.

DuPont said it will release specific details of the program to customers and suppliers later this year, at which time they will receive a list of polyester products that may be returned to DuPont for recycling.

Wellman and HC began recycling plastic soda bottles to create recycled polyester fibers last year. The fiber is currently being used in apparel and home furnishings applications.

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