Two recyclers provide insight on how they have pursued new opportunities.
Jim Ripley and his company Turtle Tanks, Colonna, British Columbia, Canada, installs septic tank systems that use recycled expanded polystyrene (EPS) as a drainage material.
Ripley was one of two presenters at a session titled “Recycling as a Business Opportunity,” presented at the third edition of the MiaGreen Expo & Conference, held in early March in Miami Beach.
Recycling Today Media Group publisher Jim Keefe moderated the session, which offered information on both metals and plastics recycling.
Ripley said EPS was “an unsuspecting form” of drain rock material, and that Turtle Tanks “had to prove it would work” to regulators.
The company collects scrap EPS from several sources, including a nearby 15,000-student university campus that generates a healthy amount of discarded EPS from the computers and accessories it purchases.
The material is processed through a dual-shaft shredder to a drainage rock size and shipped in bags. The company also offers it to contractors or others seeking drainage material under the name PolyRock. Ripley said PolyRock can be manufactured for $13 per cubic yard—considerably less than the $46 per cubic yard cost of drainage rock in British Columbia.
Ripley has not patented the process and instead encourages other recyclers or drainage system installers to borrow the company’s idea.
Long-time scrap metal recycler Michael Friedman of Sustainable Management Corp., Louisville, Ky., offered comments on opportunities present in the scrap metal sector and in the recycling of commercial-industrial-construction (CIC) materials.
According to Friedman, the CIC stream intentionally omits demolition materials. Handling mixed demolition materials, said Friedman, can be more capital intensive on both the hauling and sorting sides.
Friedman said recyclers pursuing the CIC sector can offer a number of services, including waste audits, on-site compaction of material and diverting material to either lower-cost or higher-paying destinations.
Scrap metal recycling offers opportunities but also presents pitfalls, including mis-identification of metals, Friedman noted. “Just because someone tells you it’s one thing, you’ve still got to prove it to yourself,” said Friedman when referring to the valuable role of handheld metal analyzer units.
MiaGreen 2011 attracted attendees from South Florida, other parts of the United States and from 20 other nations in Latin America and the Caribbean, according to the MiaGreen website. Next year’s event will be at the same venue Jan. 26-27.