Kristin Smith

Kristin is a member of the Recycling Today staff.


Moving forward

MRF Series

The forward-thinking approach of Dem-Con Cos.’ management has allowed it to incorporate single-stream recycling into an already extensive integrated waste management campus in Minnesota.

August 12, 2014

Operating a construction & demolition (C&D) recycling facility, a shingle processing yard, a wood processing facility and a landfill on one campus sounds like a pretty full portfolio of waste and recycling services for one company to handle. But for Shakopee, Minnesota-based Dem-Con Cos., providing customers with an environmental campus to meet all of their recovery and disposal needs meant adding a single-stream material recovery facility (MRF) to its robust offerings.

As Dem-Con CEO and co-owner Jason Haus explains, “The more integrated we can be from top to bottom, the better we can service the needs of our customers.”

Dem-Con has served the Minneapolis/St. Paul and greater Minnesota area since 1965. The company operates four business units: Dem-Con Recovery & Recycling (DCRR); Dem-Con Shingle Processing (DCSP); Dem-Con Landfill (DCL); and its newest addition, Dem-Con Materials Recovery (DCMRF).

“The completion of the single-stream MRF in November 2013 was a significant addition to the Dem-Con Cos. portfolio, which resulted from several years of market research and business plan development,” says Haus.

It was through research and development that Dem-Con recognized the need for additional single-stream recycling capacity for the Twin Cities region and the state of Minnesota.

“With growth in the Twin Cities population and as recycling participation increases, we saw a need for additional capacity for single-stream facilities in the state,” says Dem-Con Vice President Bill Keegan. “Additionally, Minnesota has a vision of raising recycling rates, and with more cities going to single stream, the market needed additional processing capacity,” he continues.

A natural fit

Dem-Con seemed ideally suited to handle the projected volume growth. “Having the single-stream co-located with the C&D MRF as well as a landfill creates some synergies that we can capitalize on that help us better serve our customers,” Keegan says. “It was a natural fit with Dem-Con’s history of processing materials.”

Dem-Con says it was excited to partner with Liberty Paper Inc. (LPI) of Becker, Minnesota, on the venture. LPI recycles old corrugated containers (OCC) into new packaging grades. It consumes 200,000 tons of OCC each year.

“Liberty Paper has a great reputation in the marketplace and has many years of experience marketing materials,” Keegan says. “Leveraging this expertise on the end markets as well as Dem-Con’s experience in facility operations, it was a natural fit to partner together.”

Permitting for the new 60,000-square-foot single-stream facility went smoothly, according to Keegan, taking only nine months for state and local approvals. Dem-Con broke ground in May 2013, and the plant was running by November 2013.

Community involvement

Dem-Con Cos., Shakopee, Minnesota, is interested in more than processing single-stream recyclables at its new material recovery facility (MRF), which opened in November 2013. Within the 60,000-square-foot building is an educational room where members of the community can view the recycling process in action.

The company invests in programs to educate the public on how the facility works, what materials are accepted in the recycling program and ways to increase recycling. A 3-D rendering of the single-stream system with augmented reality technology is housed in the educational room to help the public gain an understanding of how the equipment works prior to touring the facility. In addition, an end-market room shows firsthand the materials that can and cannot be recycled.

“We are excited to provide these services to the Twin Cities and greater Minnesota and [to] be an active part of increasing recycling rates and diverting more materials from landfills,” Bill Keegan, vice president of Dem-Con, says.

CP Group of San Diego designed, supplied and installed the equipment, which includes an OCC screen, glass-breaker screens and two additional screens for old newspapers (ONP) and mixed paper. A MSS Aladdin optical sorter separates various types of plastics. The single-stream processing equipment also includes an eddy-current separator, a glass cleanup system and two IPS balers: a two-ram baler for containers and specialized materials and a Conquest for fiber baling.

Keegan says Dem-Con selected the CP Group because the U.S.-based company rated highly in terms of customer service, attention to details and value.

As for the installation process, he says, “Overall the process went smoothly and we were able to meet our deadlines before cutting the ribbon in November.”

Chilly challenges

The MRF opened just in time to face one of the coldest, snowiest winters in recent history. Minnesotans are used to bad winters, but the winter of 2013-14 was particularly severe, according to Keegan.

“The winter was brutal,” he remarks. “Having 53 days of below-zero temperatures presented a lot of equipment challenges. Getting all the belts and conveyors to run each morning after being idle in subzero temperatures was a work of art.”

Keegan says, despite the weather, the MRF continued to run without major hiccups or halts in service during the winter.

The MRF accepts all fibers, plastics No. 1-7, glass and metals.

Dem-Con operates a merchant model, meaning third-party haulers collect material and haul it to the facility for processing. The materials come from the Twin Cities, greater Minnesota and surrounding states. About 80 percent of the material is from residential recycling, while 20 percent is from commercial recycling programs. The facility is currently operating two shifts per day and has the ability to process in excess of 110,000 tons per year at full capacity. It is currently processing 275 tons per day.

Haus says, “To be continually successful, we believe that if we are not moving forward, we are losing ground. We spend a lot of time as a company looking at what is left over after our current processes and find new options to deal with those materials, with the landfill being the last option.”

While Keegan says Dem-Con wishes to further process material and to look for opportunities to expand, he also recognizes the customers’ role in its innovation. “We are fortunate to have customers who are forward thinking as well and look for ways to better service the communities around us together,” Keegan says.


The author is a managing editor for the Recycling Today Media Group and can be reached at


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