Combined Powers

Features - Cover Story

Atlantic Coast Fibers LLC brings together the capabilities and leadership teams of several successful New Jersey recycling companies.

February 13, 2012

Principals: Chris Riviello, Vincent Riviello, Richard Ramsay, Joseph Gaccione and Jamee Gaccione are the principals of Atlantic Coast Fibers; Allan and Larry Zozzaro join them as part of the Zozzaro Atlantic Coast Processing LLC joint venture.

Locations: Passaic, N.J. (headquarters and 100,000-square foot multiple-materials warehouse and plant); Neptune, N.J. (satellite plant)

No. of Employees: 100

Services Provided: Collect, sort and recycle paper, commingled commodities and single-stream recyclables from commercial and industrial customers, municipal recycling programs and hauling companies; offers document and product destruction services through its Information Destruction Systems (IDS) subsidiary

Equipment: Includes balers made by Bollegraaf and Harris; sorting and conveying equipment made and installed by Karl W. Schmidt & Associates, Redwave and Recycling Equipment Services Corp.; a truck fleet, including tractor trailers, conventional box trucks, packer trucks and roll-off units, plus more than 100 trailers; document destruction subsidiary IDS operates three mobile shredding trucks (two Shred-Tech, one Alpine) and one stationary (plant-based) shredder made by Vecoplan


Photo Above: From left: Allan Zozzaro, Richard Ramsay and Chris Riviello. (Photos by Richard Bell)

Mapping out the history of Atlantic Coast Fibers LLC is not easy, but doing so helps tell the story of several successful family businesses with deep paper recycling roots in the nation’s largest metropolitan area.

Members of the Gaccione, Riviello and Zozzaro families have been collecting and recycling scrap paper in New York and Northern New Jersey for several generations, dating back to the 1930s.

The current successors to these family companies, being managed by recycling veterans drawn from all of these organizations, are Atlantic Coast Fibers LLC, Passaic, N.J., and Zozzaro Atlantic Coast Processing LLC, also based in Passaic.

The two companies have expanded beyond traditional paper recycling methods into greater amounts of commingled materials collection and processing, ushering in a growth era that has involved significant investments in equipment and additional personnel.
 

Strategic Alliances
Atlantic Coast Fibers LLC was formed in the early 1980s when two family-owned recycling companies, Rivsec Recycling and Monteleone Paperstock—each with its own lengthy history in the industry—merged to form the company.

In 1998 Gaccione Brothers Recycling, another decades-old recycling company that was being led by its fourth generation, was merged into Atlantic Coast at the same time a corporate buyout brought all of the companies together under two different umbrellas: first KTI Recycling and then Casella Waste Systems.

“Throughout all of this, the original principals and their sons continued to work to build a bigger and better recycling company,” says Chris Riviello, currently one of the five partners of Atlantic Coast Fibers LLC.

In 2003 some of the original family members bought the company back from Casella Waste Systems and created Atlantic Coast Fibers LLC. The next year, Atlantic Coast Fibers along with two additional partners (Mike Mimmo and Joseph Vanacore) created a document shredding company called Information Destruction Systems (IDS). IDS remains a part of the Atlantic Coast family of companies, with a fleet of three trucks offering both mobile and plant-based document and product destruction services.

The wisdom and experience of another veteran recycling family was brought on board in 2010, when Atlantic Coast Fibers LLC joined forces with Allan and Larry Zozzaro, owners of Zozzaro Brothers Recycling LLC. Their recycling roots trace back to 1940, and for more than 60 years the Zozzaro family company “was one of the largest volume recyclers of all municipal commodities on the East Coast,” says Allan Zozzarro.

This partnership led to the creation of Zozzaro Atlantic Coast Processing LLC, formed so Atlantic Coast Fibers could expand its ability to process municipal and commercial commingled recyclables, including glass bottles, plastic Nos. 1 through 7, aluminum cans, steel cans, aluminum foil and other recyclables.

The most recent alliance and expansion has been coupled with significant investments in new sorting and processing equipment. “Our new sorting system incorporates the very latest in recycling technology,” says Zozzaro.
 

Branching Out
As the Atlantic Coast Fibers name suggests, paper has been the traditional focus of Atlantic Coast and numerous predecessor companies that helped create it.

But the numerous paper recycling veterans who are the partners of both Atlantic Coast Fibers LLC and Zozzaro Atlantic Coast Processing LLC have acted in concert and unanimously to invest to broaden the materials stream that arrives at their facilities.

“We’ve been collecting the commingled, municipal material for at least the last 15 years,” says Riviello, “but only in 2009 did we begin taking the steps to sort and process that material.”

In less than three years, the company has made significant investments in a variety of equipment, including a mixed materials sorting system designed and installed by Karl W. Schmidt & Associates, Commerce City, Colo., and Recycling Equipment Systems Corp., Richmond Hill, N.Y.

The sorting system includes two Austrian-made Redwave optical sorters to segregate the PET and HDPE plastics; an overhead electromagnet; an eddy current separator to separate aluminum cans; and a glass breaker/separator.

“We are currently in the process of adding an ultra-high-tech single-stream sorting system from Karl W. Schmidt & Associates and Recycling Equipment Systems Corp.,” says Riviello. “We anticipate startup to be late spring 2012,” he adds.

As a result of the investments, Atlantic Coast can now bring in a wider variety of mixed materials to its 100,000-square-foot Passaic facility. “We handle every grade of recyclable paper, commingled commodities and single-stream recyclable,” Riviello says. “This includes high-grade paper from commercial printers, envelope manufacturers and office buildings to newspaper, corrugated cardboard, commingled and single-stream recyclables from municipal recycling programs and hauling companies.”

While the capital spending has been significant, the company’s business partners have been pleased with the early returns on that investment. “It has gone exceptionally well,” says Richard Ramsay, another Atlantic Coast principal. “Our material volume has grown just as we expected when we started out.”
 

Shipping Near and Far

With its location near one of the most active seaports in the United States, Atlantic Coast Fibers LLC, Passaic, N.J., has access to the export markets that help fuel the demand for secondary commodities.

According to the company’s principals, its approach has been to forge relationships with both domestic consumers of material as well as with overseas destinations. “We sell to consuming mills in the U.S. and all around the world,” says Richard Ramsay, a co-owner. “The ever-changing demands and buying patterns of domestic and foreign buyers alike dictate our ultimate market.”

Those patterns can change on a monthly basis, note the Atlantic Coast business partners, who say the ability to sell to both domestic and overseas buyers is essential in a “price-driven” market.

The addition of plastics processing and shipping to the company’s service mix has caused Ramsay to become the primary marketer of that material to the global market. “A lot of plastic markets are domestic,” he notes.

On the fiber side, “There is a portion that stays domestic, but a lot of the [brown] grades go offshore to China and elsewhere,” Ramsay says.

Old and New
The opportunities brought about by the recent equipment investments have allowed Atlantic Coast Fibers to serve a combination of old and new customers, say the principals of the company.

“We buy from all commercial, industrial and municipal generators of recyclable materials,” says Riviello. “We also buy from other material recovery facilities,” he adds.

This does not represent a major change from how the company has traditionally operated, the business partners say. “We are a full-service recycling company that strives to be at the forefront of recycling in the New York-New Jersey metro area,” Riviello says. “We constantly are looking for more products we can recycle and to offer new opportunities to our customers.”

The sorting equipment is allowing Atlantic Coast to process, upgrade and sell material that it formerly delivered to a third party. Allan Zozzaro, a co-owner of Zozzaro Atlantic Coast Processing LLC, is enthusiastic about that change in the business model. “It’s an advantage to be able to go back to existing customers and let them know we can accept and process the plastics and other materials in a commingled fashion,” he comments. “It also allows us to go in and see potential new customers in a more competitive position. The more materials you can offer to recycle for a customer, the more interested they become.”

Recovered fiber will remain a part of that stream, but the Atlantic Coast business partners say the addition of metal and plastic containers is an important step in diversifying the business.

“With the newsprint market shrinking, we’re obviously seeing less fiber coming in, which is why we made this investment in the commingled system,” says Ramsay. “There is potential growth in the container business, so we want to be there as or if there are any trends away from paper. I hate to say it, but we’re starting to feel the effects of such a trend now.”
 

Collective Thought
When the business partners made the decision to diversify into the processing of additional materials, they did so unanimously. Although each of the principals has his own role to play within the company, the seven business partners have also demonstrated they can act quickly and in concert.

Jeffrey van Galder, sales director of Karl W. Schmidt & Associates, says he was impressed with how the company followed up on its decision to process commingled materials. “They were a great customer with a very helpful mentality of collaboration and partnership,” says van Galder. “Installations like this one go well because it’s not a transaction as much as it is a relationship. They certainly had goals, but they were very participatory in the design process, very flexible and really looked at it as a collaborative effort.”

The leadership team at Atlantic Coast Fibers has additional goals to keep growing in 2012 and beyond. Opening satellite locations beyond the Neptune, N.J., plant is one of those goals. “We anticipate opening several more new satellite facilities over the next few years,” Riviello says.

Satellite locations can help Atlantic Coast expand its geographic range. And approaching customers with the full array of Atlantic Coast services should continue to open doors, the principals say.

“With core values that date back 80 years providing quality service to the recycling industry, we’ll focus on approaching every customer with innovative ideas that will provide not only a successful program but one that will return a fair value for each commodity,” Ramsay says. “Our forward-thinking and unique approach to solving customers’ problems give us that competitive edge.”


 

The author is editorial director of Recycling Today and can be contacted at btaylor@gie.net.