International Recycling Group (IRG) announces $9 million funding from Erie Insurance and Plastek

20 August 2020

Erie Insurance is investing in the newly formed IRG Erie, Inc., through its Opportunity Zone Fund, based on the company meeting pre-development progress milestones. Separately, Plastek has purchased an equity stake in IRG’s parent company, GreenSteel, LLC.

The IRG facility in Erie will be the first of its kind—a mega-sized, all-plastics SuperPRF™ (Plastics Recovery Facility)—that will revolutionize plastics recycling. The Erie Insurance Opportunity Zone investment will support plant development, including engineering design, site selection, and contract work.

IRG Founder and Chairman Mitch Hecht stated, “We’re thrilled to be partnering with Erie Insurance and Plastek to realize our vision of super-large-scale plastics processing facilities. We could not have found a better place to build our business than Erie after considering all the city’s attributes.

Erie has such a rich history in manufacturing, and engineering education and research into polymers. And its location makes it a critical link between the Atlantic coast and Midwest markets.

These investments allow us to tap into that potential and bring back manufacturing jobs within the new green-tech industrial economy.”

Erie Insurance President and CEO, Tim NeCastro, said, “Erie Insurance is excited about this investment in the future of our community, and in supporting the region’s environmental sustainability efforts.

IRG was considering several locations for this project when they approached us. We engaged our Erie Regional Chamber and Growth Partnership and Mayor Joe Schember and his staff to point out the advantages of coming to Erie, including a ready and willing workforce, a strong plastics manufacturing customer base, the advantage of access to lake transportation and the potential for partnering with our institutions of higher-learning.”

Hecht added that the Erie team welcome included the enthusiasm and support of key community leaders, including Erie County Executive Kathy Dahlkemper and Erie County Council Chair André Horton of Erie’s historic and important District 2, where the new plant is expected to be built.

Plastek Group CEO, Dennis Prischak, commented, “As a large supplier of polypropylene packaging products to consumer products companies around the world, we’re keenly aware of the increasing demand from consumers for post-use content in new packaging. We anticipate that this partnership with IRG will allow us to dramatically increase the percentage of our products that contain recycled materials.”

Plastek Group has been in the plastics injection molding business in Erie since 1956 as a privately-held, multi-generational family business. They are recognized as an industry leader in advanced plastic materials.

Erie Mayor Joe Schember added, "My team and I are tremendously happy about the International Recycling Group's plan to create the first ever, all-plastics sorting facility right here in Erie. Our Mission is:  Build Opportunity.  Restore Hope.  Transform Erie.  

IRG's plan takes a huge step toward making that vision real by providing family-sustaining jobs and eliminating waste by recycling plastic very efficiently.  Thanks to Erie Insurance and The Plastek Group for providing the funding to make this happen.  At the City, we stand ready to help in any way we can."

James Grunke, Erie Regional Chamber and Growth Partnership CEO added, “IRG connected with our community a year ago during Erie Homecoming.  IRG’s $100M project demonstrates that Erie can compete and win projects when we unify under a common vision and play as a team. In the midst of a pandemic that has affected the global economy, the foundation IRG found in Erie gives them great confidence that success will begin here.”

IRG has designed a concept for a mega-scale plant that uses smart machines to separate and sort residential, commercial and industrial plastics from homes and businesses; processing the entire universe of resin types and forms, and dramatically reducing the amount of material that enters landfill.

The company reports that because recycling currently relies mostly on hand sorting and delivering waste plastics to the bag or bin, the plastics are too often combined with other types of non-recyclable material. This causes problems for waste haulers and impedes municipal efforts to recover more re-usable plastics.

In IRG’s view, the future of post-use plastics collection and sortation will involve large-scale facilities that have a sustainable non-landfill solution for the nonmarketable material. Plastics processors will need to be able to handle all plastics - not just containers - so that more plastic is diverted from the trash and driven to recycling. IRG’s non-marketable material will be repurposed into its proprietary iron reducing agent for use in steel manufacturing.

Plans for its first sorting facility, which IRG calls a SuperPRF™ (“PRF” being a “plastics recovery facility”), will involve an investment of some $100 million.

Over 50 manufacturing jobs are expected to be created by 2022, the expected plant start-up date. Future expansion may increase employment ultimately to over 150. The company is currently considering several available sites with close-proximity to highway and rail lines.

When completed, the plant will be the largest and most technologically sophisticated plastics recycling plant in the world, automatically sorting over 275,000 tons of mixed-waste plastic material per year in phase one. It will be supporting the city’s and the region’s plastics manufacturers with recycled material to incorporate into their products.

About International Recycling Group

IRG is designing and building the world’s largest plastics recycling plant in northwest Pennsylvania with commissioning expected in 2022. The SuperPRF™ concept will accept all types and grades of waste plastic and in all forms. Recyclable resins will be sorted, cleaned, flaked and sold to downstream recycling processors. Non-recyclable material will be repurposed as an iron reducing agent for the integrated steel industry.

Media Contact
Doug Schrader
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