Netherlands and Chelsea, Vermont-based EcoGlobal is one of the 9 companies selected for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s (CDPHE) Colorado NextCycle program, which provides funding and resources to entities interested in turning recovered materials into marketable products.
Founded in 2013, EcoGlobal is a social enterprise company that uses Ekopolimer technology to convert LDPE plastics, such as plastic bags, into Ekomats, a “multipurpose mat” used in various applications and industries, including construction and parks and recreation.
To be eligible for the pilot program, EcoGlobal pitched its idea to open a second production line to manufacture Ekomats in the U.S. and divert more single-use plastics from oceans and landfills.
NextCycle aims to help Colorado meet waste diversion goals, which would double the state’s recycling rate to 45 percent by 2036. EcoGlobal and the other teams will pitch their ideas at the state’s recycling conference in June for a chance to receive funding to implement their business proposals in Colorado.
The following is a Q&A with EcoGlobal CEO Caleb Rick about the company’s North America expansion plans:
Recycling Today (RT): What is EcoGlobal's growth story over the past few years?
Caleb Rick (CR): Since 2013, our company’s focus is North American expansion of Ekopolimer, a durable, recyclable material that extends the life of single-use plastics. Ekopolimer-based products are currently produced in Europe. We began to import and sell one of our products (Ekomats) in the U.S. and Canada last year.
RT: How are Ekomats manufactured?
CR: Most single-use plastics currently go to the landfill, yet the underlying durability and stability of LDPE is worthy of recapture and reuse. Ekopolimer adds decades of life for the material, which can be used in a variety of products and applications.
The manufacturing process is mechanical reactive-extrusion of waste LDPE plastic mixed with filler and producing a dough-like material (Ekopolimer), which is hydraulically pressed into molds.
Our standard domestic production line diverts more than 14,400 tons of mixed film and 4,000 tons of mixed glass annually.
RT: What are the expansion plans for Ekomats?
CR: Our current production expansion plan includes Vermont, Florida, Colorado, Northern California, Alberta and British Columbia. A single production line will divert and convert the equivalent of 2 billion plastic shopping bags each year.
Sourcing and converting hard-to-process ocean plastics into transportation pallets is part of our expansion plan. Our sourcing strategy is informed through collaboration with Ministry of Waste and other participants from the Klosters Forum on Ocean Plastics.
RT: How does the company plan to use the $5,000 NextCycle grant?
CR: The NextCycle grant, combined with other financial and resource support from the state, will enable site, feedstock and market planning for Colorado production expansion.
RT: What industries do the mats benefit?
CR: Customers include construction, municipalities, utilities, landscapers, well drillers, golf courses, waterfront, parks and recreation and others.