High school chums start growing industrial plastics recycling business

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WINDSOR, ONTARIO (March 15, 1:20 p.m. ET) — Starting a company during an economic downturn might be a daunting proposition for some.

But not for three high school friends who joined forces in 2008 — some 10 years after their graduation — to start an industrial plastic recycling and container refurbishing company in Canada that now has three locations, including two in the United States.

“I find that the challenges in a tough economy are ‘business challenges’ magnified, but also opportunities,” said sales and purchasing executive Jeremy Berger, one of the three co-founders of Green Processing Co. Inc. “In a tough economy there is less business to go around, so it is tougher to obtain new business and grow. [But] fortunately the ownership group was able to invest in order to expand.”

As a result, Green Processing has grown from a single 8,000 square foot facility four years ago in Windsor to a company that now has two facilities in Windsor with a combined 64,000 square feet, and plants in Parkman, Ohio, and Laredo, Texas, that were opened under separate names.

“In an economic downtown everyone is looking to take their dollar further—and that is what we facilitate,” said Berger. “We help companies generate revenue from scrap while lowering their garbage fees, and help companies repair existing shipping containers so that dunnage can be safely re-used and expenditures avoided.”

Green Processing recycles a combined 1.5 million to 2 million pounds of plastics monthly at all of its locations, said Berger, with the material, for the most part, split equally between injection molded plastics, sheet, and purge, and obsolete automotive-related dunnage such as bins, totes, and trays.

In addition, the company recycles and refurbishes 3,000 to 5,000 containers monthly, he said. The containers are mainly structurally foam molded high density polyethylene collapsible containers and totes, but Berger said the company also handles some polypropylene pallets, high molecular weight PE trays, and metal containers.

He said the container division stocks over 5,000 new and used collapsible bins, plastic pallets, and plastic totes, refurbishes containers for sale and lease, and does container cleaning and repair, container management and container recycling.

The company’s original 8,000 square foot facility in Windsor is dedicated to container repair and one-fifth of its 56,000 square foot facility in Windsor is also dedicated to container repair work, he said.

The company’s most recent expansion was in Laredo where it opened a 20,000 square foot facility this past December, called Southwest Industrial Recycling LLC, at the urging of three large automotive suppliers nearby.

“The Laredo expansion has allowed us to better serve our southern-based customers and open new opportunities in Texas and Mexico,” Berger said.

That followed on the heels of an expansion in Parkman where the company’s Midwest Industrial Recycling LLC operation, has grown in size from 8,000 square feet to 24,000 square feet since it was formed in 2010.

“Our expansion into Ohio began with a customer relationship that quickly turned into ... a partnership,” Berger said. “Our partner in Ohio, Josh Jones, has nearly 20 years experience in packaging.”

Approximately 30 percent of the Ohio plant, and 40 percent of the Texas plant is dedicated to container repair, with the rest of the volume at those two plants from recycling, Berger said.

At all of its plants, most of the material recycled is from nearby automotive plants, Berger said.

He said the recycling division of the company handles all post-industrial plastics including high density polyethylene, polypropylene and high molecular weight plastic automotive dunnage, as well as automotive plastics such as PP, thermoplastic olefins, Nylon, ABS, PC/ABS, polycarbonate, and polymethyl methacrylate, a transparent thermoplastic that is often used as a light or shatter-resistant alternative to glass..

“Our objective is value-added recycling, so mainly we purchase part-form and purge,” said Berger. “The material is sorted and processed at our facilities. We do not pelletize or wash in-house, but we work closely with reprocessors and end users to return a pellet if that’s desired,” he said.

Green Processing and its corporate umbrella company, Green Recycling Group Inc., employees approximately 50 people — 40 of them in Windsor and operates six grinders and shredder. Berger said each of the six recycling lines has a nameplate production capacity of 2,000 to 3,000 pounds per hour.

“We focus on material sorting and removing contamination,” he said. “Our group grinds 15-20 grades of plastic, so the main value-added is that we are a one-stop-shop for plastic recycling. Our goal for Parkman and Laredo is similar to that of Windsor — multiple shifts, multiple grinding lines, and a large employment base.”

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