Municipal, Mergers & Acquisitions, IC&I

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Recent news from the various sectors of the recycling industry

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April 29, 2022

Mid America Recycling’s Des Moines, Iowa, MRF
Photo: Brent Isenberger

Schupan & Sons acquires Mid America Recycling

Schupan & Sons Inc., a recycler, processor, distributor and manufacturer based in Kalamazoo, Michigan, has acquired Des Moines, Iowa-based material recovery facility operator Mid America Recycling.   

“Mid America Recycling’s multimaterial recycling and deposit container operations align perfectly with being an industry leader in providing sustainable, high-quality, recycled materials,” says Tom Emmerich, Schupan & Sons’ chief operating officer. “Mid America has been a recycling leader in Iowa for years and has a knowledgeable team with strong customer relationships.”   

Nationally recognized for its Michigan deposit container processing system, the acquisition of Mid America Recycling also aligns with Schupan & Sons' strategic growth plans, domestically and abroad, says Marc Schupan, CEO of Schupan & Sons.   

“While we are certainly excited to hit the ground in Iowa, we know we must first get to know our new employees and build relationships with Iowa distributors, retailers, the legislature and communities,” Emmerich says.      

Mid America Recycling began operations in 1979 in response to the passage of Iowa’s bottle bill. The company’s professional management, plant and administrative teams have more than 200 years of combined recycling industry experience. The company says it recycles 1.5 billion pounds of material annually.  

“I have known the Schupan organization for years and have always respected the way they operate and treat people,” says Mick Barry, former co-owner and president of Mid America. “I strongly believe we are leaving our company in the right hands.”

WM drops the waste

Jim Fish, president and CEO of Waste Management Inc., headquartered in Houston, says the company officially is shortening its name to WM, commenting that the firm’s decadeslong approach to sustainability has made it “much more than a waste management company.”

In a 10-minute video presentation prepared for the company’s February Sustainability Forum, Fish says, “Going forward, Waste Management will be known as WM.” Fish points to “the sustainable solutions we offer” and “the future we’re committed to” as reasons for the change.

Much of the video entails Fish describing “massive investments” WM has made to modify the garbage-to-landfill business model on which waste companies have traditionally relied.

“We expect to invest $200 million in recycling infrastructure in 2022,” he says. In 2021, Fish says, WM recycled more than 15 million tons of materials at its material recovery facilities (MRFs) and other plants.

“We’ve invested over $700 million since 2018 in new and improved MRFs,” he says. Fish referred to recently built or upgraded MRFs in Chicago, Salt Lake City, North Carolina and Southern California, saying major MRF renovations are underway or coming soon to Houston, Cleveland, Washington and Maryland.

Fish says a collection of nearly 30 such projects has contributed to a situation where “we’ve increased plastics capture by 25 percent, just since 2019.”

In the video presentation, Fish also cites “massive investments” the company has made to collect, clean and distribute landfill gas as “renewable natural gas to power WM trucks and nearby communities.”


Photo courtesy of Athens Services

Athens Services begins construction on new MRF, transfer station

Athens Services says it has broken ground on a new material recovery facility (MRF) and transfer station in Irwindale, California, located in Los Angeles County.  

The completely enclosed MRF will apply for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification and will feature photovoltaic panels on the roof to produce energy. The site also will include a recycling science and technology center.

When the site opens in the second half of 2023, it will be the largest MRF in Los Angeles County, according to the company, measuring 250,000 square feet. It will receive, process and transfer up to 6,000 tons per day of nonhazardous, mixed municipal solid waste, organics and construction and demolition material from commercial waste haulers and self-haulers. The facility also will create more than 300 livable-wage jobs for residents of the surrounding area.

The Irwindale MRF will be one of the most technologically advanced in the country, Athens Services says, featuring the latest in artificial intelligence and optical sorting technology to divert material away from landfills.

“The technology will be astonishing,” Athens Senior Director of Resource Recovery Riel Johnson said at the groundbreaking event March 24. “Once we complete the facility and open our doors, we will invite you in to take a tour, and you too will be excited,” he added.

Headquartered in City of Industry, Athens Services describes itself as Los Angeles County’s largest privately owned waste diversion and recycling company. It has nearly 2,000 employees, a fleet of more than 1,000 trucks and facilities stretching from the South Bay to the Inland Empire and the High Desert. It serves more than 30 municipalities and county areas throughout Southern California. 



© Gabriel Cassan | stock.adobe.com

The Recycling Partnership releases contamination-reduction kit

The Recycling Partnership has released a new resource that focuses on improving drop-off recycling programs. The comprehensive kit, called the Drop-Off Recycling Contamination Reduction Kit, includes guidance to help discuss recycling drop-off sites with local material recovery facilities (MRFs) and haulers, instructions and tools for messaging, tips and strategies to reduce contamination as well as tracking and reporting.

According to The Recycling Partnership, a nonprofit organization based in Falls Church, Virginia, that works with communities, companies and governments to transform recycling programs, 45 percent of Americans don’t have access to curbside recycling because they live in rural communities or in multifamily housing, and many of these communities use drop-off sites to fill the gap in access.

“The Partnership has worked with many communities to reduce contamination at drop-off sites,” says Cassandra Ford, community program manager at The Recycling Partnership. “The Drop-Off Recycling Contamination Reduction Kit takes our proven anti-contamination process and details a step-by-step … guide so communities can replicate our process,” she adds.

The organization says many factors must be considered when improving drop-off recycling that can include communication with MRFs and haulers, clarity for residents and users, ease of use and safety and security. The Recycling Partnership adds that effective drop-off programs can increase the quality of the recycling stream, reduce hauling fees, improve program satisfaction and increase participation.

This is the second launch of the Drop-Off Recycling Contamination Reduction Kit, which previously was released in 2019 in collaboration with the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy. Ford says the two organizations worked on projects throughout Michigan and recognized the kit needed updating and expanding to include a communication plan, staffing guidance, household engagement survey guidance, a MRF survey expansion and a new section covering security features.

For a listing of industry events, visit www.RecyclingToday.com/events.