Recycling is not only the right thing to do, it can improve your bottom line. Improvements in recycling techniques mean less C&D waste is ending up in landfills. In fact, more than half of all C&D waste can be recycled into usable commodities that replace virgin materials and either add revenue streams or cut costs. The following companies have found ways to do just that through their own recycling operations.
Recycling boosts profits
Carolina Clearing and & Grading, Charleston, SC, recently switched its focus to adapt to a changing marketplace. An emphasis on wood recycling has allowed it to downsize and prosper.
Previously, the company specialized in turnkey site work, but this was a labor and equipment intensive approach. It owned an extensive fleet and employed 47. In addition to the high overhead, it was at risk as the site development market dried up.
Carolina Clearing & Grading realized a new approach was in order, and the wood recycling industry provided the perfect opportunity. It already owned a Vermeer TG7000 tub grinder, which it now uses to go to different municipal and independently owned landfills to grind their wood waste product for them on site.
There have been many advantages to this new direction. "Working for the municipalities, when we are halfway done, we turn a purchase order in and by the time we get done, we have a check," says Bob Dotson. "It is guaranteed money."
And the company's profits are higher than ever. "We are making more profit now," says Dotson, noting that margins were much tighter on site work. "The company was doing millions of dollars worth of work. But once you start paying all of the guys, paying for wear and tear on the equipment, paying for all of the fuel -- before, on a $100,000 job, after everything is paid out, you might make $15,000."
Carolina Clearing & Grading has been able to reduce head count to two workers. It has also reduced the amount of equipment required. "Mostly, we are using a John Deere 270 excavator and a 624 loader with a grapple bucket," Dotson says. "We just have the two pieces of equipment and the grinder on site."
The grinder and equipment are moved from one landfill to another. "We usually set up on a few thousand ton basis," says Dotson. The landfills weigh the material coming in. "When they get to a 2,000-ton level, that is our minimum. We move the equipment in and do the grinding. On average, we can knock out 2,000 tons in about a week as long as we don't have any breakdowns."
Cut disposal costs
Wood mulch is rapidly becoming a desirable commodity. But grinders are an expensive investment and won't make economic sense unless you have the volume to keep them busy. Thus, many contractors across the country are looking for clean sources of wood to keep their grinders fed.
One such contractor is Illinois-based Wood Recyclers, which owns a 1,050-hp Vermeer HG8000 grinder. "In certain applications, we can do 500 or 600 yds. an hour," says Bob Piekarski. "For us, it is a good combination with our tree service division. We generate a lot of material. If someone were to do it on their own, it may not be enough to keep them sustained.
"It is such a large machine," he continues. "There are a lot of times when people with smaller machines are running eight hours a day trying to keep up with grinding. This machine is so efficient and so fast, you can grind for a quarter of the day and load trucks and do colored material the rest of the day."
Wood Recyclers will grind any wood product as long as it is clean. "Everything we bring into the yard is 100% recyclable," says Piekarski. "We turn our end product into mulch, depending upon what the end use is. That is why it is crucial for our customers to get it 100% clean. Nails are not a big deal because we have magnets on our machines, but as far as anything else, we should have it clean."
Wood Recyclers makes it easy for any size contractor to recycle wood waste. If the project is large enough, it can set up on site. But for most projects, it supplies 20-, 30- and 40-yd. dumpsters that are dropped off and picked up, or contractors bring material into the yard themselves.