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APR News and Media

May 31, 2017 - Recycling Today Magazine

APR Member Highlight: Avangard Innovative

Taking a fresh approach

Avangard Innovative, headquartered in Houston, expands its operations by producing recycled LDPE pellets.

Houston-based recycler Avangard Innovative continues to find new material streams to tackle. Through its Natura Zero Program, the company works with Fortune 500 companies to identify and efficiently collect clients’ recyclables; it also collaborates with them to reduce or reclaim spent resources in daily operations.

In addition to the Natura Zero Program, Avangard manufactures its own line of recycling equipment, including foam densifiers, compactors and balers, featuring technology designed to help track bale composition and quality. The company also uses software to help its clients track their recycling efforts.

Avangard is adding the production of recycled low-density polyethylene (LDPE) pellets to its capabilities. Film recovered from its clients in the retail sector will provide the raw material.

A LITTLE HISTORY

“Avangard Innovative started as a plastics recycling company and evolved into a waste- and recycling-optimization company using technology,” CEO Rick Perez says.

“I started the company with a phone and fax at my parents’ house with $1,000 back when recycling was not so sexy and there was really not a big focus on it at all,” he says. At its founding in 1986, the company was known as Innovative Commodities Group. In late 2006, it merged with Avangard Industries Ltd., another plastics recycling, processing and trading company headquartered in Houston, to form Avangard Innovative.

“We were fortunate to be able to grow the business over 30 years, and I think we have made some great strides in this field,” Perez says.

BACK TO ITS ROOTS

With the announcement of its new LDPE recycling facility, Avangard is capitalizing on a material stream that makes up a good deal of the recyclables it handles for its clients through the Natura Zero Program.

“We are doing the same thing we did in the PET (polyethylene terephthalate) market,” Perez says of Avangard’s move to produce postconsumer recycled (PCR) LDPE pellets. He’s referring to the company’s role in the formation of PetStar, Toluca, Mexico, which Perez describes as “one of the largest postconsumer resin plants in the world.” PetStar recycles PET bottles, supplying its food-contact-grade resin to Coca-Cola bottlers throughout Mexico.

Avangard is investing $10 million to build the facility that will convert LDPE film into high-quality PCR resin to be used in film production. The investment includes the building, equipment and working capital for the operation, which will be located on property Avangard already owns in Houston, says Jon Stephens, the company’s executive vice president.

“With our past success in the PCR PET recycle streams, we are very excited about this new venture,” Perez said when the company first announced its plans in March. “With this new LDPE plant, we can vertically integrate and utilize one of the largest streams of material we manage today.”

The company says it manages approximately 100 million pounds of LDPE film scrap annually from the retail sector and other generators throughout the Americas. This material stream is the third-largest Avangard handles, the largest being corrugated containers, followed by organic materials.

“Approximately 50 percent of our LDPE scrap will flow through the new facility,” Stephens says, adding that the company will sell the balance of the material to its current markets.

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