Recycling plant aims to reduce emissions, help community
Published: Monday, September 23, 2013
Updated: Monday, September 23, 2013 23:09
Over the next year, Delaware’s ReCommunity Recycling plant aims to save 218,587 cubic yards of landfill space, avoid 1,806,539 gallons of waste water from landfills and reduce greenhouse emission by 464,331 metric tons of carbon dioxide, according to a press release from the company. That is the equivalent of removing 85,045 cars from Delaware roads, the press release said.
“It’s a rare business where the better we do, the better the community does,” said Stephen London, marketing director of ReCommunity Recycling. “The bottom line is the power of recycling—what it can do to create jobs, create revenue and create a positive future.”
On Sept. 8, the Delaware Solid Waste Authority hosted a public Community Day to honor the grand opening of its state-of-the-art recycling plant and new education building. The event also celebrated the group’s new partnership with ReCommunity Recycling, which aims to revolutionize the way Delaware recycles over the next 20 years, according to London.
ReCommunity Recycling is the country’s largest “pure-play” recycling company, according to its website. The company strives to give back to the community by means of education, physical recycling and splitting profits with the state.
Founded in Charlotte, N.C. in 2011, the company has 36 recycling centers in 13 states, London said. He said the $15 million recycling plant hopes to make back its investment in the next five to 10 years, which will be possible due to the 20-year contractual partnership with the DSWA.
London said the company tries to differentiate itself by giving back to the community. Not only has the corporation provided more jobs in the state, but it also sells the recycled materials to independent buyers, corporations or businesses and gives half its profits back to the community, he said.
“It’s a beautiful thing where we separate it, sell it and then we split the profits with the community,” London said. “Essentially it’s assets and valuable resources for the community. The more they recycle, the more money goes back into the community, and people don’t know that.”
The Community Day hosted moon bounces, free food and self guided tours of the recycling plant, which began accepting materials on July 1, said Mike Parkowski, chief of business and governmental affairs for the DSWA.
The recycling plant and Community Day would not be possible if it were not for a new universal recycling law that was recently implemented in Delaware, Parkowski said. The three-phase law already requires all counties to supply recycling bins to every home and apartment complex. Parkowski said starting in January 2014, it will also include every commercial business in the state.
Before the law was in place and the plant was built, Delaware’s recycling was transported to Trenton, N.J., Baltimore or Philadelphia. Now, the New Castle plant collects all the recycling for all of Delaware and Cecil County, Md.
Parkowski said before the law was in place, the DSWA was recycling 45,000 tons a year. Now, thanks to the new recycling plant and the law to support it, Delaware is recycling 90,000 tons of single stream recycling a year.
“We make it as easy as possible,” Parkowski said. “Here’s your can, it’s your choice. We’re going to come once a week, and if you don’t recycle, your can will fill up super fast.That’s the whole concept of the law. That’s how it was written to work, and it’s working.”
Parkowski said the business is not striving to make money. Instead, he said it views the process as a valuable service similar to police and firefighters, which are paid for by taxpayers.
“We don’t make money––that’s a common misconception,” Parkowski said. “For example, we would pay Newark to bring the material here. It doesn’t cover their costs to transport, but it supplements it. They end up saving money because they don’t have to take it to a landfill, which costs more money. Its called a tipping fee.”
Parkowski said trash trucks are charged at the landfill based on how much their trash weighs. Therefore, if a truck takes 50 to 60 percent of its trash to a recycling plant, it gets paid some money by the recycling plant and does not have to pay a high tipping fee at the landfill, he said.
The event also celebrated the grand opening of the education center, which plans to offer field trip opportunities for Delaware students, said Stacey Helmer, public education and outreach technician for the DSWA. The company will use the classroom, interactive displays and hands-on activities to teach the next generation of Delawareans the importance of recycling, she siad.
“We’re really trying to encourage the environmental stewardship among children to bring into their household,” Helmer said. “Hopefully integrating that in children and having them grow up with that mind frame will be better for the future.”
Martha Masters of Wilmington said it was great to see where materials are being recycled, bailed and reused and knowing that their recycling efforts are going to good use.
“I think having the material facility in Delaware is huge because so many people, I believe, think that when it comes to recycling, someone else takes care of it,” Masters said. “I think it’s important for kids to understand so it’s in their nature growing up and they don’t have to learn to do it, they just do it. You don’t throw that can away, you recycle it.”