Kristin Smith

Kristin is a member of the Recycling Today staff.


Parting with tradition

Operations Focus

Tallahassee, Florida-based Marpan Recycling applies its knowledge of C&D debris sorting to single-stream recyclables.

October 1, 2014

Marpan Recycling, based in Tallahassee, Florida, has been recycling mixed C&D material since 2008, but with a Class III recycling permit and a recent contract with Leon County for single-stream recycling, Marpan is recovering a whole lot more than wood and concrete now.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) defines Class III waste as “yard trash, construction and demolition debris, processed tires, carpet, cardboard, paper, glass, plastic furniture, appliances or other materials approved by the department that are not expected to produce leachate ... .”

It’s not uncommon to see Marpan employees ripping out foam padding and metal from a mattress or salvaging car bumpers and 5-gallon buckets from its mixed loads. Marpan is constantly growing its end markets to find outlets for the various materials it accepts. Company President Kim Williams says when the facility first opened in 2008, it sorted and sold 15 different commodities. That figure increased to 27 in 2009. By 2010, Marpan was recovering 33 different end products. “Today, we separate and sell somewhere in the neighborhood of 70 different commodities,” Williams says.

Opening the Class III recycling facility didn’t happen overnight. Marpan purchased the property in 2005, but it took a few years to go through the permitting process. During that time, Williams says he would attend C&D recycling events and read Construction & Demolition Recycling magazine, a publication of the Recycling Today Media Group, for insights into the business. “I’d read a story, and I’d be intrigued about a process or about a market, and I would call people,” he says. “I was invited to a number of facilities around the country to see how they did their C&D recycling, which helped design the facility.”

Williams recalls roughing out his first design on the back of a napkin, joking, “It got better when an engineer got involved.”

Marpan built a 25,000-square-foot processing facility in Tallahassee, designed and constructed by Sherbrooke OEM, Sherbrooke, Quebec. It was the first Class III recycling facility to open in Florida. The recycling operation is an extension of the container and hauling company Marpan has operated since 1967.

It was while operating the hauling company that Williams had the idea to open a recycling facility. “I couldn’t in good conscience continue to go to a landfill and throw away things that were very easy to recycle,” he says.

Williams says as haulers, the company delivered about 200 tons per day to the local landfill. Williams predicted volume would double at the recycling facility when it opened in May 2008, but, he says, “At the end of the day, all we had was 200 tons. We realized real soon that the volumes we had anticipated when we built the facility weren’t going to be there. It was about 50 percent of what we hoped for.”

Then in January 2009, the local landfill closed to everybody but Marpan, so material that once went straight to the landfill had to be processed through Marpan’s Class III facility. But, Williams says, “Even with the landfill closing, diverting materials to us, we were still only receiving 200 tons a day. We realized, if we were going to have more recyclables, we had to find them.” Marpan began picking more items out of the material stream.

Breaking tradition

Marpan also began processing dual-stream curbside material from Leon County for Waste Management using a small separate line. Then Leon County and the city of Tallahassee started discussions about moving to single-stream recycling.

Williams says, “I started going and looking at single-stream facilities. The difference was, I owned a C&D facility, and I liked the type of screens that we had.” He points out that most single-stream facilities use disc screens, while Marpan’s C&D facility uses a star screen and finger screens.

“I wanted to use a finger screen as my primary screen, and we were able to work with General Kinematics and Metal Tech Systems to design a rod deck (a modification of a finger screen) to make a primary screen for our single-stream facility,” Williams says. “We just broke away from the industry completely because we were experienced with that style of equipment from a maintenance and performance standpoint,” he adds.

Using the modified finger screen with a ballistic separator at the single-stream facility greatly cut down on maintenance, in Williams’ opinion. “If you had a lot of maintenance on the screen, it would adversely impact your bottom line,” he notes.

Williams does recognize that a higher-volume single-stream facility may need a different screening technique to achieve higher velocity, but Marpan’s configuration works well and is cost competitive for the volume it gets from the 280,000 residents of Leon County, Williams says.

Using C&D recycling equipment at the single-stream recycling facility also allows Marpan to use the same staff at both the Class III and single-stream plants. The single-stream plant opened in January 2013. Marpan is processing an estimated 1,400 tons per month through the single-stream facility and 5,000 tons of C&D and other Class III materials per month.

Mutual benefits

While the two recycling facilities are separate, Marpan is able to capitalize on having both plants on one property. Because of the single-stream facility, Marpan can collect similar plastics in its Class III plant and “quickly build a truckload,” according to Williams. “Otherwise you might sit on that stuff for a long time.”

Another benefit to having both facilities is that residuals from the single-stream MRF can be processed at the Class III plant. “We actually take the residual of our single-stream plant, put it on the floor of our C&D plant and run it down the line to get one more look at it,” says Williams. Marpan has recovered ferrous scrap and aluminum cans using this method. Additionally, the residuals of the Class III facility are the only material out of both facilities that needs to be compacted and taken to the landfill.

“We get a lot of visitors from communities of our size who are interested in building either a C&D or single-stream facility,” Williams says. “I think it is important for people to see it, especially the C&D industry, which is my primary industry, to know how to do it the right way to produce a high-quality product.”

Williams emphasizes the importance of quality. “We try to keep the quality consistent,” he says, adding that customers’ trust is hard to get back when lost.

Finding efficiencies

About 40 percent of the incoming Class III loads come from Marpan trucks. The other 60 percent comes from other haulers, local residents and smaller contractors.

Marpan has an inbound and outbound scale. The two-scale configuration was a result of Williams’ experience at the landfill. “Having experienced the landfill before we built our facility, we spent a lot of time having to wait. Having one scale didn’t seem like a very efficient process for us,” he says.

Williams says by installing two scales, Marpan has been able to reduce time at the recycling facility as compared with the landfill by 20 minutes.

When trucks arrive at Marpan Recycling, they are directed to a tipping floor where they dump their loads. An excavator loads material onto an apron conveyor, which feeds the finger screen. The unders fall onto a B line and they move across a magnet and screen and are met by several hand sorters before finally going through a Destoner air classifier. “The A line continues straight and the big stuff is removed by a cadre of manual sorters,” Williams says.

End-market advice

Commodities recovered at Marpan’s single-stream and Class III facilities have met with mixed success, depending on how the markets are for each product at any given time. Williams says the mixed paper market continues to struggle, while plastics have held steady. Also volume is picking up overall. “We are up 20 percent from where we were,” Williams says, referring to volumes seen through the spring.

Williams, who has been president of Marpan since 1985, says he has witnessed numerous changes to waste collection, hauling and recycling over the years, and the company has always been able to adapt and grow. The past few years have been particularly challenging, entering new areas of businesses during a time of economic downturn. As Williams describes it, “It has been one hell of a ride through the longest recession in my lifetime, and we have survived it and are looking forward to a robust market.”


The author is managing editor of Construction & Demolition Recycling, a sister publication of Recycling Today, and can be reached at This feature originally ran in the March/April 2014 issue of
Construction & Demolition Recycling.

More with Marpan

Visit the Multimedia section of Recycling Today’s sister publication Construction & Demolition Recycling at for a video interview with Marpan Recycling President Kim Williams and for a look inside Marpan Recycling’s Tallahassee, Florida, operations.


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