SER North America is the second US plant built in Anderson, Indiana, by the Italian Sirmax Group, a sustainable producer of polypropylene compounds, engineering plastics, post-consumer compounds and bio-compounds for a wide range of applications. SER North America, the Group's thirteenth plant, is entirely dedicated to the production of recycled polypropylene from post-industrial waste.
The new plant, which stands next to Sirmax North America (built in 2015), brings the plastic selection and processing models applied to post-consumer plastic in Europe to the US market. Its mission is to carefully select, shred, and regenerate post-industrial waste, and its flagship product is Green Isoplen, a polymer based on 100% regenerated polypropylene.
Incoming waste material is controlled at the source through stringent supplier selection and later processed to obtain high-quality output materials. SER North America's recycled polypropylene is intended both for industrial applications and to be processed by Sirmax North America as a secondary raw material for hybrid compounds marketed under the Green Isofil and Green Isoglass brands. These materials contain mineral fillers or are reinforced with glass fiber and are intended for the production of durable goods for the household appliance and automotive sectors. Though their performance is equivalent to high-grade compounds, they contain varying percentages of green material (depending on client specifications), which ensure they have a lower environmental impact.
"SER North America marks a new stage in Sirmax's sustainable growth," states Lorenzo Ferro, US country manager at Sirmax Group. "These new green products give us the opportunity to enter sectors where we do not yet have a presence, such as industrial packaging or garden furniture. Our production processes and the fact we have full control of supply sources also means that we are ready to bring post-consumer mechanical recycling technology to the United States by 2024. The vertical integration we have undertaken with SER allows us to differentiate ourselves in the market and meet Sirmax client demands for more sustainable materials in the automotive and household appliance sectors - all without compromising on traceability and the high quality standards required for premium materials, which are already being supplied today."
Post-consumer mechanical recycling technology means Sirmax products contribute to the reduction of CO2 emissions. This is substantiated by a life cycle assessment (LCA) study commissioned to Spinlife, a company of the University of Padua (Italy), which showed that replacing virgin polypropylene with recycled waste material can often halve carbon dioxide emissions.
SER Na has a production capacity of 33 million pounds. It was a greenfield project with an investment of $30 million. Its production capacity is in addition to that of Sirmax Na (100 million pounds), for a total of 133 million pounds. The plants’ total production area is 268,000 square feet (144,000 + 124,000). The first plant has five production lines, while the second - which focuses on the production of recycled material - has two. It has a total of 100 employees, which will rise to 140 by the end of the year, as 40 new hires are envisioned for the Anderson plant. The turnover of Sirmax USA is around 80 million dollars.
Thanks to the knowledge developed in Italy by Sirmax Group, the parent company, the Anderson plants are able to guarantee quality, reliability and high levels of technology. It is no coincidence that Newsweek - the international magazine - wrote an extensive piece about the Sirmax Group as part of a recent survey on the economic growth of Italy and its industrial champions, listing Sirmax as one of the most sustainable companies in the country within its sector.
Sirmax has been working towards sustainability for years, and since last September, it has been working alongside UMass Lowell and MIT - two Massachusetts universities - on a research project funded by the ReMade Institute (part of the DOE, Department of Energy) entitled "Chemical Conversion and Process Control for Increased use of Polyethylene and Polypropylene Secondary Feedstocks". UMass Lowell, the top US university in the field of injection molding, is studying a model for recycling polyethylene and polypropylene industrial waste for correct reuse in the packaging industry.
With an investment of $100,000 per year, Sirmax Group is the only non-US company partnering with the project. Other participants include giants such as Procter & Gamble. In light of the USA’s increased focus on green policies, the purpose of the project is to provide the knowledge and technology needed to accelerate the implementation of good recycling practices and promote a culture of urban waste sorting.
"The pandemic has determined a change of pace," said Sirmax Group president and CEO Massimo Pavin, "as evidenced by the 43 million dollars invested at the federal level to initiate as many as 24 projects engaging in the research of new technologies to reduce energy consumption and decrease emissions. Among these is the UMass project in Lowell, selected by the Remade Institute. In addition to its economic commitment, Sirmax will contribute by providing knowledge and by making its laboratories available for recycling tests."