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 plastics recycling and container refurbishing company in Canada.
“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. “
As a result, Green Processing has grown from a single, 8,000-square-foot facility four years ago in Windsor, Ontario to two facilities in the city with a combined 64,000 square feet, as well as plants in Parkman, Ohio, and Laredo, Texas.
“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 reused and expenditures avoided.”
Green Processing recycles a combined 1.5 million to 2 million pounds of plastics monthly, said Berger. For the most part, the material is split equally between injection molded plastics, sheet, purge, and obsolete automotive-related dunnage.
The company also recycles and refurbishes 3,000-5,000 mostly structural foam molded high density polyethylene collapsible containers and totes monthly. Berger said the company also handles some polypropylene pallets, high-molecular-weight PE trays, and metal containers.
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, 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 expansion in Laredo allows for 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.
The company dedicates about 30 percent of the Ohio plant and 40 percent of the Texas plant to container repair, with the rest of the volume from recycling. At all of its facilities, most of the material recycled is from nearby automotive plants, Berger 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, polycarbonate, ABS, PC/ABS, 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,” he said.
Green Processing and its corporate umbrella company, Green Recycling Group Inc., employ approximately 50 people — 40 of them in Windsor. Each of the six recycling lines has a nameplate production capacity of 2,000-3,000 pounds per hour.
“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.”