WM gets into PCR production with acquisition of Avangard Innovative

While Natura PCR will remain independent, working with WM will help it increase its PCR feedstock, while WM will expand its end market for plastic film.

plastic grocery bags
The pending deal between WM and Avangard Innovative will enable more plastic bags and film to be recycled, WM says..
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WM, Houston, has announced that it has agreed to acquire a controlling interest in Houston-based Avangard Innovative’s U.S. business, which will operate as Natura PCR—an independent company expected to scale and grow recycling capacity to produce an estimated 400 million pounds per year of postconsumer resin (PCR) in five years.

The transaction is expected to close in late 2022, subject to the satisfaction of customary closing conditions, including regulatory approvals.

Through Natura PCR, WM says it expects to deliver new recycling capabilities for its customers and provide circular solutions for films and clear plastic wrap used commercially, such as plastic stretch wrap for pallets, furniture film, grocery bags, and potentially shrink wrap around food and beverage containers.

“WM’s controlling interest in Natura PCR positions us to grow and scale rapidly in the emerging PCR space,” WM President and CEO Jim Fish says. “WM’s core material supply capabilities, with the head start and knowledge provided by Avangard’s U.S. business, will help Natura PCR quickly deliver circular options to WM’s customers as an important component of our continued growth strategy in recycling. Today, there is so much untapped potential to reuse film—which impacts many of our commercial customers. We can help our customers close the loop and bring more recycled materials to the store shelf.”

Leading materials science company, Dow, Midland, Michigan, has been working with WM to help increase the recycling rate of plastics and create sustainable solutions in packaging, infrastructure and consumer applications. Dow also has been working with Avangard Innovative since early 2020, purchasing the company’s PCR pellets to produce Revoloop, Dow’s product line with PCR content.  

“We have been working with both companies to increase the use of recycled plastic in Dow’s products, and Natura PCR brings together capabilities that will unlock more options for hard-to-recycle plastics for the industry,” says Nestor de Mattos, North America commercial vice president of packaging and specialty plastics at Dow. “Natura PCR further expands at scale, waste-to-market solutions across North America and advances our goal to help divert plastics from landfills to circular solutions.”

Natura PCR will focus on the mechanical recycling of film and flexible plastics—some of the most complex plastics in the recycling stream today—and convert these materials to PCR that can be used to manufacture new products replacing virgin materials. These streams comprise almost a quarter of today’s plastic generation, but only about 5 percent is recycled today.   

Demand for PCR is expected to grow in response to consumer-packaged goods companies’ commitments to use recycled content and pressures from consumers and regulators to increase the PCR content in the packaging materials the companies manufacture. WM has demonstrated a track record of collecting materials from commercial streams for the feedstock needed to produce PCR content and expects its materials sourcing expertise will enable it to increase the supply of PCR pellets that Natura PCR can produce for use in new products.

“This transaction helps the business quickly scale operations, maximize source feedstock and meet the continued rise in demand for environmental additives, such as recycled plastic resin,” Avangard Innovative CEO Rick Perez says. “After 30 years in the recycling business, WM’s significant involvement, coupled with the strong relationship with Dow and other customers, will set Natura PCR up to offer the most innovative end-to-end circular economy solution in the market.”

WM says Natura PCR plans to expand its recycling capabilities at Avangard’s existing plant in Waller, Texas, and build new plant capacity in the Midwest. Natura PCR will be primarily owned and controlled by WM. Avangard and affiliated entities will hold a collective minority equity position in Natura PCR. WM says it expects to receive investment returns comparable to its previously announced automation investments in single-stream recycling.

The Recycling Today Media Group has contacted WM and Avangard for additional information on the transaction and will update this story.

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