Barrington entrepreneur giving new life to single-use plastic

Nathan Gray standing with products made with the chips.

Nathan Gray standing with products made with the chips. Matthew J. Morwy / Business NH Magazine

By MATTHEW J. MOWRY

Business NH Magazine

Published: 05-16-2024 11:30 PM

Nathan Gray has an endless supply of raw materials for his products. He would like to see that change. Gray is CEO of Plastic Recycled, a Barrington-based company that is “creating new life from single-use plastics,” as the company’s tagline states.

To put his supply chain into perspective, Americans purchase about 50 billion water bottles per year, averaging about 13 bottles per month for every person in the U.S., according to EarthDay.org. And that is just water bottles.

Through Plastic Recycled, Gray has partnered with municipalities, businesses, and community organizations to set up 36 collection sites throughout Massachusetts, NH and Maine to collect recycled material, particularly hard-to-recycle plastics including plastic lids, bottle caps and prescription bottles. He then chips them down to colorful plastic confetti that is used to make products including bowls, planters, turtle sculptures, outdoor benches, recycling bins and even home siding.

Gray founded the company four years ago and he currently has four employees. He says the company is breaking even and is on the verge of profitability, which he expects to happen with the next expansion.

“There is so much plastic in the world, collecting is not an issue. It’s developing products to make it a viable business,” he says. “We need to find those people interested in supporting us and in the story behind the products.”

Gray also founded House Factory Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to educating people about sustainability, recycled building materials, and eco-friendly practices. That includes how to make Ecobricks, building materials used in small scale projects like furniture made from plastic bottles packed with soft, clean, dry plastic such as plastic bags.

Gray also receives larger plastics recycled from businesses and institutions, including NH Ball Bearings and Harvard University. “We get materials shipped to us nationwide,” Gray says.

Plastic Recycled goes through about a ton of recycled materials a month. “We recycle 100% of the products that come in,” Gray says.

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Gray is a serial entrepreneur who started his own masonry business in high school, building it to 15 employees and 30 subcontractors. “I realized all the waste we were creating and wanted to improve upon the waste stream,” Gray says. He was also inspired when his brother-in-law showed him Ecobricks made from recycled plastic. That led Gray to launch Plastic Recycled four years ago.

Gray says anything that can be made from wood he can make out of recycled plastics. He even creates large sheets of recycled plastics that can be used for countertops and other larger projects.

Gray is currently seeking investment partners. “We have proven the concept and are consistent with our final products,” he says. “We want to have locations throughout the U.S.”

Gray plans to open another facility in NH in the next year and is in negotiations to form a strategic partnership with another business that would supply more warehouse space. “We are continuing to grow,” he says. “A lot of people are eager to recycle.” For more information, visit Plasticrecycled.com.