Plastics recycler Avangard Innovative LP is spending $10 million on a new low density polyethylene film recycling plant.
The Houston-based company already manages 100 million pounds of recycled PE film each year collected from retailers and other generators of film waste. But this move vertically integrates the company to also create post-consumer resin from that feedstock.
Avangard expects the new 35,000-square-foot plant, located at the company's existing facility in Houston, will create 30 jobs.
“Work will begin tentatively on or before June 1,” said Mark Patin, general plant manager for Avangard. Initial production is slated for August, and full production is expected in October at the site, which will have a total annual capacity of 48 million pounds.
“Before we would collect it from different sources and we would trade it, sell it on the open market. And now we're going to take the material that we were trading, and instead of selling, we're going to create a recyclable LDPE pellet out of it,” he said.
“It completes a cycle of a waste stream. We have access to materials that we were trading, and now we can create a pellet and serve as another product,” Patin said.
Avangard's big investment in plastics recycling comes at a time when some others are having difficulty and even going out of business because of lower commodity prices.
But the folks at Avangard see the expansion as an opportunity for more success.
“We've got a good opportunity now. The company is in a good position,” said Amy Reed, sales and marketing manager at Avangard. “They are really excited about the vertical integration of the company by taking this step and investing in the plant.
“It happens to all be coming together at the right time, and it's really been through some strategic planning on behalf of our leadership,” Reed said. “Now's the time.”
Creating post-consumer resin for film applications from recycled film closes the loop and meets what the company said is a growing demand in that market.
“With our past success with [post-consumer] PCR PET recycle streams, we are very excited about this new venture. With this new LDPE plant, we can vertically integrate and utilize one of the largest streams of material we manage today,” CEO Rick Perez said in a statement.
The company said research has determined specific recycling streams that will best produce post-consumer resin to “meet the critical properties needed for film applications.”
“We aim to be a solution with our PCR to be used in the highest end application possible and are committed to being fully engaged as change makers within the Circular Economy,” Executive Vice President Jon Stephens said in a statement.
The new multimillion-dollar facility, Avangard said, will be “one of the first plants to utilize optical sorting to prepare the film blend for extrusion.”
Reed added: “This is really an exciting opportunity for Avangard Innovative and the entire team that's here. This is allowing for incredible growth for us and also allowing for us to continue to stay ahead of that curve. So we're very, very excited. I think we're very fortunate to be in this position. And we take this opportunity very seriously, and we're looking forward to all the good that's going to come from it.”
Avangard is the 14th largest plastics recycler in North America, measured by volume, according to Plastics News' most recent ranking.