International Recycling Group Chooses SB3 Industrial Park Site in City of Erie to Build Large Plastics Recycling Plant

10 February 2021

International Recycling Group (IRG) announced that it has entered into a contract with Erie Management Group to purchase land on the east side of Erie for its future plastics recycling plant—expected to be the world’s most technologically advanced.

The approximately 25-acre lot in the SB3 Industrial Park on East Lake Road sits in a federal Opportunity Zone within the city of Erie. Opportunity Zones were designated by Governor Tom Wolf as a means to attract investment in economically distressed neighborhoods that would benefit from job-creating development. The company says that the City of Erie provides access to a strong and skilled workforce, and the plant is expected to create at least 50 living-wage manufacturing jobs to start.

IRG says it was drawn to the site’s central location within Erie’s east side industrial corridor for a variety of reasons including its direct access via the Bayfront Parkway to interstates I-79 and I90. There is also a rail spur on the site, acreage previously home to the Hammermill and International Paper companies.

Mitch Hecht, Chairman of IRG, commented, “We’re envisioning a clean, environmentally advanced and environment-friendly building. It will be fully landscaped. The building will look like a typical light manufacturing plant or will perhaps resemble an e-commerce distribution center from the outside. There will be no outdoor scrapyard.”

An avid cyclist, Hecht said he also loves the fact that he’ll be able to leave the car behind and bike over to the site each day from his home on the west bay front.

IRG’s innovative process will ensure that the majority of recycled material from the new facility will be transported to recyclers and manufacturers to be reused for new products. Less than half of the material – material that cannot be reused for new products - will be transported to steel manufacturers to be used as an environmentally beneficial iron reducing agent; replacing mined coal which steel producers currently use. The process involves the reuse of already manufactured carbon molecules derived from the IRG processing which further reduces landfilling of unusable plastics recycling byproducts. It also dramatically reduces greenhouse gas emissions in steel production.

IRG will join other innovative environmental companies in the SB3 Industrial Park, including HERO BX, Calypso Enterprises, and Prism Glass Recycling, all founded, owned and operated by Erie businessman Samuel P. “Pat” Black, III, and his daughter Sumi James-Black. HERO BX is the largest producer of biodiesel in the northeast US, generating 50 million gallons annually at the Erie plant and over 250 million gallons across its five locations.

Calypso Enterprises holds one of the coveted twenty-five Pennsylvania medical marijuana grower/processor licenses and is currently completing a facility expansion, bringing its footprint to over 100,000 square feet.

Newly-launched Prism Glass Recycling provides an avenue for glass recycling at the municipal level after glass was phased out of single-source collection streams.

Relative to the transformational development on the City’s lower east-side, Pat Black shares in the excitement surrounding the IRG project. “Erie is my home and providing family-sustaining employment opportunities for our community has been my life’s work. I commend Mitch and his team for choosing Erie to launch what very well might be a model for the rest of the world.”

The Black family also sees the potential for a synergistic relationship between IRG and Prism Glass, according to Laura Guncheon, vice president, EMG Project Management Office. “As neighbors, literally, working together to keep recyclable materials out of the landfill and back into a useful life is a no-brainer.”

Erie Mayor, Joe Schember, commented on the decision by IRG: “My Team and I are very excited about this new development by IRG. Not only does it bring new, family-sustaining jobs to Erie, it will also keep all plastic out of area landfills by implementing new, innovative recycling methods. This brings incredible benefits to the Erie area. We look forward to working with Mitch Hecht and the IRG Erie team as they develop this exciting innovation.”

Hecht also commented on IRG’s efforts at cooperation and open dialogue with the City on quality-of-life issues. “We’re fully committed to ensuring the quality of life around our facility. We’re a team of passionate environmentalists. The entirety of the company’s operation takes place indoors. Bales of tightly packed, pre-sorted plastics come into bays from fully-enclosed tractor-trailers. They leave the building the same way. Material is never exposed to the elements. Total traffic flow will be about 50 trucks per day.”

IRG expects to begin construction on the new plant later this year, with completion scheduled for early 2023.

About International Recycling Group:
IRG is designing and building the world’s most technologically advanced plastics recycling plant in northwest Pennsylvania with commissioning expected in 2023. The SuperPRF™ concept will accept all types and grades of waste plastic and in all forms. Recyclable resins will be sorted, cleaned, and sold to downstream recycling processors. Non-recyclable material will be repurposed as an iron reducing agent for the integrated steel industry.

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