New “super” plastics recycling plant gets $9 million in funding
Canadian PlasticsMaterials Recycling Sustainability
The investment from Erie Insurance and plastics packaging supplier The Plastek Group will go towards building the $100-million, mega-sized all-plastics recycling facility in Erie, Pa.
International Recycling Group (IRG), a privately-held start-up company that’s planning to build a large plastics recycling plant in Erie, Pa., has announced an initial round of US$9 million in investments from Erie Insurance and plastics packaging supplier The Plastek Group.
In an Aug. 19 statement, IRG said the US$100-million facility in Erie will be the first of its kind – “a mega-sized, all-plastics SuperPRF (plastics recovery facility)” – and that Erie Insurance’s Erie Insurance Opportunity Zone investment will support plant development, including engineering design, site selection, and contract work.
Separately, Erie-based Plastek has purchased an equity stake in IRG’s parent company, GreenSteel LLC.
IRG says it has designed a concept for a mega-scale plant that uses smart machines to separate and sort residential, commercial, and industrial plastics from homes and businesses;, and that this will allow the facility to process a wide range of resin types and forms, and dramatically reducing the amount of material that enters landfill.
The company reports that because recycling currently relies mostly on hand sorting and delivering waste plastics to the bag or bin, the plastics are too often combined with other types of non-recyclable material. This causes problems for waste haulers and impedes municipal efforts to recover more re-usable plastics.
“In [our] view, the future of post-use plastics collection and sortation will involve large-scale facilities that have a sustainable non-landfill solution for the non-marketable material,” IRG said. “Plastics processors will need to be able to handle all plastics – not just containers – so that more plastic is diverted from the trash and driven to recycling.”
IRG’s non-marketable material will be repurposed into its proprietary iron reducing agent for use in steel manufacturing.
Over 50 manufacturing jobs are expected to be created by 2022, the expected plant start-up date. Future expansion may increase employment ultimately to over 150. The company is currently considering several available sites with close-proximity to highway and rail lines.
When completed, the plant will be the largest and most technologically sophisticated plastics recycling plant in the world, IRG said, automatically sorting over 275,000 tons of mixed-waste plastic material per year in phase one. It will be supporting Erie’s, and the region’s, plastics manufacturers with recycled material to incorporate into their products.