International Recycling Group Bringing Country's Largest Plastic Recycling Plant to Erie: Giving You the Business
International Recycling Group (IRG) is spearheading a multi-million dollar project in east Erie.
"It's going to be by far the largest plastic recycling plant in the country," said Mitch Hecht, chairman and founder of IRG.
The $200 million full-scale plastics recycling operation will sit on 25 acres across from the former Hammermill Paper plant in the City of Erie. Ground will be broken in the spring.
"I like to say we want Erie to become synonymous with plastic sustainability as Corning is to glass," said Hecht.
The current gated, overgrown site will be an international showplace, according to Hecht.
"We're making a very large-scale plant to sort and make a home for every pound for waste plastic that comes out of our homes, out of our restaurants," said Hecht.
It will then be sold to recycling markets.
Hecht and his late business partner Doug Schrader laid the groundwork for IRG years ago when they formed the company in 2007.
"That was based on the initial indication from the U.S. steel industry that they would be interested in taking the product that we we would make to replace coal in their blast furnaces," said Hecht.
Schrader's granddaughter Ashley Hilemann is helping to carry on his legacy.
"I've grown up listening to what IRG was supposed to be and is going to be," said Hilemann. "He really cared about the environment. It's really exciting to be on the more environmental side of IRG and New Bin".
She leads a pilot program called New Bin, which is the company's platform for connecting with the community.
Blue bins will be at summertime events for plastic collection. The plastic will later be sorted on the side of the future operation.
The operation will create hundreds of new jobs and has already received support from several local companies and organizations.