BY JOHN WEISS, firstname.lastname@example.org
ST. CHARLES — Jeff Mintz sees Destination Medical Center as a powerful force to grow his new company, Envirolastech, which makes boards, siding and other products from recycled plastic for home and industry.
The company started before DMC was announced, Mintz said. “It’s totally fortuitous, unrelated,” he said. “The reality is that the increase in building in the area is helpful.”
That growth could pave the way for Envirolastech, whose products, Mintz said, should be called not green or ecofriendly but “ecorestorative” because they heal the earth by reusing materials now being tossed out.
Some of the products, which will be made in a St. Charles facility expected to begin producing materials in May, could go to new buildings or products directly related to DMC growth, he said.
“It will be extraordinarily useful that this is a region with a high rate of building going on,” he said. “It’s only a plus.”
In addition to boards and siding, Envirolastech products also can be used in industry, such as for pallets that can withstand the cold and can be sanitized, he said. Wood pallets can’t be cleaned for reuse in some applications, and today’s plastic pallets crack in the cold; Envirolastech’s get stronger in the cold, Mintz said.
its production facility because it has a new industrial park, and the city sold the company four acres for $1. The city and Winona County also helped with loans, he said. Another plus is the area has many workers who lost their jobs when the North Star Foods plant burned in April 2009. The company didn’t rebuild there, and Mintz believes many workers who don’t want to live in a big city stayed in the area, hoping to find jobs close to home.
“I don’t see the same folks who work at Mayo as being the same folks who would outfit a manufacturing facility,” he said. The hires “will be mostly people who don’t want to commute at all; they want to be close to home.”
The company hopes to begin production in April, he said. While Mintz touted DMC as being great for his new company, he really got excited talking about the product. He compared it, in a way, to Mayo. “Mayo’s job is to heal,” he said. “Our mission at Envirolastech is to heal the planet.”
Mintz said he was a family practice lawyer because he felt it would allow him to do the most good for society. But he is phasing himself out of that to work on Envirolastech.
“I would not be doing this project if it was not for the fact that it is truly a pathway to make a positive impact on the world,” he said. Here’s how it would work.
Many of the boards now being made out of recycled plastic actually have some wood filler in them. That makes them vulnerable to rot, he said. His products are all “100 percent from post-consumer recycled material” except for paint. It’s mostly plastic and maybe some glass or fly ash. “Nothing is water soluble,” Mintz said.
The product could be used for windows, siding, decking, paver blocks, landscape walls and other uses, he said. His dream is to operate plants across the nation, including some along the Gulf Coast where there is a demand for nonrotting material for sea walls.
Right now, not all grades of plastic can be recycled, but Envirolastech can use all grades of plastic. The company is talking with Mayo about getting its plastics for recycling, he said.
Waste plastic is a huge ecological problem, he said. “About half the plastics now made are for one-time use,” he said. His company can reuse them.
Geno Wente, chief operating officer and logistics coordinator, is in charge of obtaining plastic. At first, it would come most from Winona County because the plant would be in that county, he said. The plant eventually could pull plastics from an 80-mile radius, he said.
Wente said Mayo has “a great (recycling) system in place right now,” and that only would grow as Mayo grows. That could mean more recyclables for Envirolastech.