Rick Perez, CEO, Avangard Innovative (AI)Rick Perez, CEO
A reassuring message welcomes every visitor on Avangard Innovative’s website, “If your facility is experiencing a disruption in recycling services as a result of COVID-19, please contact us immediately. Avangard Innovative (AI), and all our subsidiaries, facilities and teams, are fully operational and ready to assist you.”

The Recycling industry is indeed facing an unprecedented challenge as the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a lack of recyclable material and low recycling rates due to business closures. But that’s where AI has been hyperactive, helping its clients survive. The company had enough stored ‘feedstock’ available to keep operating for its customers. Further, it has repositioned to supply PPE (NaturaSafe masks and gloves) to its customers to keep their businesses open and their workers safe. AI’s two types of foam densifiers—hot melt and cold compaction—manufacture foam, a Circular Economy solution that is desirable now and will gain more traction as the economy comes back.

Most recycling and waste programs suffer from blind spots that limit their ability to generate profits; that’s where AI’s technology-driven circular economy solutions help clients optimize and monetize all their recycling and waste programs. To this end, the company’s hot melt densifier units for EPE and EPP, expanded PE and PP, shred and use a heating element and screw to densify the foam. “Our cold compaction unit for EPS to make blocks is a hybrid technology where we are the only ones utilizing screw and hydraulic in combination to avoid meltdowns when processing EPS,” says Rick Perez, the CEO at AI. Typical cold compaction units use one or the other in a straight line and necks down to densify foam. There is potential for generating too much frictional heat, which along with the low melt point of EPS, results in a meltdown. To avoid this, an operator is required to chip out the material to be able to restart the machine.

With 30 years of experience operating in 11 countries, the company is the largest recycler in the Americas, offering full-service waste management and recycling optimization solutions at all levels of the process. AI’s proprietary technology (Sustayn™ Analytics), program management & optimization (NaturaZero 2.0™), and post-consumer resin manufacturing facilities (Natura PCR™) are designed to help clients measure, manage and monetize their sustainability programs. “Our mission is to preserve and protect the environment by achieving zero waste to landfill,” states Perez.

As Perez mentions, most potential customers ‘think’ they have a good waste and recycling program in place, but they have no idea what it can be. AI adds transparency into the system with NaturaZero 2.0. Typically a new customer sees a 30-50 percent recycling rate increase after AI’s Sustayn platform discovers potential savings from waste not being recycled or being rejected by current waste removal companies.
By this ‘lighting up the grid,’ AI can maximize the capture of overlooked recycling opportunities to increase net profits. Whether it be overlooked recycling opportunities in scrapping film and plastic buckets and tubs, AI initiates a 90-day pilot program to get a representation of the whole company, gathering data from every company facility. From there, the program goes to a regional or national rollout. AI has a zero-risk financing program as well. No wonder that the current AI customers include the world’s largest online retailer as well as the largest brick and mortar business and largest grocery stores.

Our mission is to preserve and protect the environment by achieving zero waste to landfill.”

One of the great advantages of AI’s NaturaZero 2.0 technology is that it is a kit that can be compatibly retrofit with existing equipment such as balers, compacters, and scales. Artificial intelligence technology identifies what product is in the waste stream and what shouldn’t be, whether it is at the dumpster or a baling station. Further, there are external and internal benefits to optimize the weight of recyclables and lower the cost of waste, through which the company can identify and monetize waste and recyclables that were going to the landfills.

Using AI’s Sustayn Analytics—dashboard of data—at every location, clients can produce Capture Percentage Rate™ (CPR) from which opportunities can be identified to increase recycling and reduce their waste cost. This information is valuable for increasing a business’ ESG score, as AI produces audited data and generates environmental Key Performance odds.

At the helm of AI has been Perez, driving the company’s overall strategic vision to deliver on creating lasting partnerships. Under his leadership, the company recently opened the Avangard Innovative North Houston PCR facility, the largest in the Americas, to produce high-grade PCR. Strategically partnering with Dow Chemical, the largest flexible packaging resin producer, converters like Hi-Cone, and several brand owners, AI is creating Circular Economy solutions which “close the loop” from birth of the resin to end-of-life of the product to starting all over again.

For the future, AI is poised for expansion beyond the 11 countries that the company is currently in. They are also opening PCR plants in Mexico and Nevada and are focused on growing Sustayn Analytics and NaturaZero 2.0 for all customers. “AI is constantly looking for collaboration with every segment of the whole supply chain. Our mission is to work on simple Circular Economy solutions with resin producers, converters, brand owners, recyclers. You can look for new products with PCR to be introduced in the near future,” concludes Perez.