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Birch Plastics adding new equipment, new grades of recycled HDPE

By: Frank Esposito

April 8, 2014

HOUSTON — Recycling firm Birch Plastics Inc. continues to grow, adding a new grinder and introducing new grades of recycled high density polyethylene resin.

The 120-horsepower grinder was set to arrive at Birch’s 35,000 square-foot Houston plant on March 31. It’s needed to handle growth across many segments, President Robert Lang said March 25 in Houston. The firm also installed a new wash line last year.

Houston-based Birch recycles a wide range of commodity and engineering resins, including managing recycling of trash cans and recycling bins used for curbside recycling in Houston, Corpus Christi and several other Texas cities. These municipal accounts contributed 3 million pounds to Birch’s 25 million-pound total volume in 2013. The firm also recycles a large number of crates used for milk and bread deliveries, as well as injection molded parts and HDPE pipe.

The new HDPE is a single-stream, injection black reprocessed grade, said Lang, who founded Birch in 2001 after 20 years of experience with other plastics firms. Additional new grades from Birch include odor-free, contamination-free recycled materials with post-consumer content for injection molding applications. Birch works with Phoenix Plastics and other area firms to toll-compound its recycled resins.

Growth has led Birch to add six employees already so far in 2014 to bring its work force up to 22. The firm also is looking for more space, since it’s been using outside warehouses. Vice President Brandon Cleary joined the company in late 2012.

“I could buy six truckloads of injection molded parts — but where would I put them?” Lang said. “We could use a place probably three times our current size, but the Houston market is really tight, so we haven’t found anything yet.”

Birch also is looking to grow its ranks by hiring an account manager and plant manager. The firm has installed new lab equipment in the last year, including additional melt index machines. The firm recently introduced additive concentrates that can eliminate soap smells from post-consumer bottles.