One-of-a-kind recycling business thriving in Albert Lea

Infinite Recycled Technologies has found Albert Lea to be an ideal place to locate its unique glass recycling business.

The company developed the proprietary process for separating glass from the plastic interlayers of laminated glass products. The glass then goes back to the manufacturer for reuse and the plastic to a major carpet manufacturer to be used as raw materials for carpet backing.

The facility opened in the south industrial park in 2020 and soon faced unprecedented challenges, which the company overcame with local support.

“Unbeknownst to us at the time was the fact that we would face strong headwinds with the COVID pandemic, which happened in a matter of weeks after we began operations in the spring of 2020,” said Jeremiah Watson, chief executive officer of Infinite Recycled Technologies. “The assistance that was provided allowed us to weather a very challenging time and grow our operation to the size it is today.”

He credits the City of Albert Lea and Albert Lea Economic Development Agency (ALEDA) for helping establish the facility. Gap loan financing in the amount of $140,000 became even more important in the days ahead.

The Small Business Administration, through its 504 loan program, assisted Infinite with a government-secured loan to acquire the facility and purchase the equipment needed to begin production.

The facility employs 25 people and expects to add at least five more by the end of the year with a gross payroll of more than $1 million per year and an average wage of $20 per hour.

“I would also like to highlight the tremendous quality of employees that work for us in Albert Lea. The area has a great workforce that any company would be lucky to utilize as well as infrastructure that is very conducive to manufacturing. Overall, we are incredibly happy with our decision to locate in Albert Lea,” Watson said.

The idea for the local company began when glass manufacturers asked its parent company, Watson Recycling, to assist with recycling the laminated glass waste produced in their facilities. It became apparent that there wasn’t an option in the United States to do this type of recycling on the scale needed.

Before this new recycling technology, laminated glass, the main material in the waste, all went to landfills.

Byan Skogheim Jeremiah Watson

Jeremiah Watson, chief executive officer of Infinite Recycled Technologies, at right, and ALEDA Board President Bryan Skogheim discuss the company’s growth since its inception in 2020. The company is the only recycler of its type, having developed the process for separating laminated glass from plastic interlayers as seen in the stockpiles in the background

Infinite Recycled Technologies’ proprietary process takes raw laminated glass such as above and separates the glass from the plastic interlayers so that both byproducts can be reused, preventing them from going to the landfill. Infinite estimates that it has diverted 30 million pounds of product from entering landfills.

“Due to the work that we’ve all done, over the last several years, we have diverted 30 million pounds of material that would have gone directly into a landfill. Because of this work, that material has gone back into making new products that improve all of our lives. I’m very proud of that,” Watson said.

“However, it’s not all good news, we’ve got a problem that is enormous. That 30 million pounds that we are recycling pales in comparison to the 14.5 billion pounds that we landfill every year in the United States… As we continue to grow we’re committed to seeing every one of those 14.5 billion pounds collected, recycled, and turned into a valuable new product for all of our benefits.”

Bryan Skogheim, ALEDA board president said, “We are proud to have helped Infinite Recycled Technologies make Albert Lea the location for their advanced process of recycling laminated glass. Through partnership with the City, ALEDA was able to bring this innovative, family-owned company to Albert Lea by providing resources, support, and gap financing. We look forward to their continued growth in Albert Lea.”