Plastic railroad tie maker IntegriCo Composites Inc. is adding a second production line, an expansion that will add up to 40 new jobs.
About half of the $7.5 million project at the Sarepta, La.-based company is being funding by a loan through the Closed Loop Fund, created to spur recycling and sustainable manufacturing technologies through no-interest and low-interest loans. The remaining money is coming from existing company investors, IntegriCo CEO Scott Mack said.
Work already has begun on the expansion.
"This will double our production," Mack said. "It will take us to between 250,000 and 300,000 composite railroad ties per year out of Sarepta."
The railroad ties are made from recovered plastics, the CEO said. GP Harmon Recycling, a unit of Georgia-Pacific, provides about 70 percent of that raw material to IntegriCo.
"One hundred percent recycled plastic, the majority of which is post-consumer normally destined for the landfill," Mack said. "Three through seven is the majority of the formula."
Major customers are railroads, both domestic and foreign, as well as the military.
IntegriCo previously was based in Texas but moved to Louisiana to find larger production space. The company's first production line began last year, and Mack expects the second line to be operational by the end of this year.
The 135,000-square-foot location in Sarepta is about three times larger than the company's previous site in Temple, Texas. The facility also has much more outside storage space for finished goods as production continues to expand.
IntegriCo has a goal of producing at least 1 million railroad ties per year by 2020.
The company currently employs about 55, and Mack expects to add another 35 to 40 with the second line. And once a third production shift is added, employment will increase even more.
Along with making railroad ties, the company also makes grade crossings from recycled plastics.
"IntegriCo is turning what used to be a low value bale of mixed plastics into a higher value infrastructure product, thereby improving the value of the recycling mix and ensuring that hard to recycle plastics don't end up in the landfill or in waterways," said Rob Kaplan, managing director of the Closed Loop Fund, in a statement.
"We see this investment as helping unlock an important economic bottleneck in the recycling system," Kaplan said in the statement.
Closed Loop Fund, in recent years, has made a series of investments in both private companies and with local governments to expand recycling efforts. A group of private companies, including Wal-Mart, Procter & Gamble, Johnson & Johnson, came together to provide money for the $100 million fund.