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International Recycling Group receives $9 million in funding to build plastics recycling plant

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International Recycling Group, a privately-held start-up company that is planning to build a large plastics recycling plant in Erie, Pennsylvania, has received an initial round of $9 million in investments from Erie Insurance and The Plastek Group.

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.

The IRG facility in Erie will be the first of its kind—a mega-sized, all-plastics 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. These investments allow us to tap into that potential and bring back manufacturing jobs within the new green-tech industrial economy."

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." 

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.   

Plans for its first sorting 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.

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