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VOL. 123 | NO. 46 | Thursday, March 6, 2008

Recycle Solutions Talks Trash With Biz Owners

By Eric Smith

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HEAPING HELPING: A bulldozer unloads cardboard into one of Recycle Solutions' industrial balers, which compacts the material for reuse. The company, which opened last year at 1054 Kansas St., specializes in paper, cardboard, plastic and food waste recycling. -- Photo By Eric Smith

Mark Huber admits it can be a challenge getting business owners to talk about garbage - how much they produce, where it goes and what can be done to reduce it.

It can be harder getting them to consider recycling, because while the "green" movement might be all the rage in some parts of the country, that's not always the case locally.

"You'd be amazed at how much pushback you get from customers," Huber said. "I don't know if it's the Memphis culture or not, but it's been slow to come around."

That's beginning to change thanks to Huber's company, Recycle Solutions, www.recyclesolutions.net, a waste management and recycling solutions firm that targets the city's numerous warehousers, manufacturers and distributors.

The Memphis-based business opened last summer, but it's trying to raise its profile while breaking in its new home at 1054 Kansas St., just a few miles south of Downtown in the heart of the city's industrial district.

Recycle Solutions bought the 7.5-acre site in February 2007 for $350,000, then spent the next few months renovating it for a multifaceted recycling operation, which eventually launched in July.

On Friday, the company is holding a grand opening at the facility. The event is free and open to the public.

Junk, treasure

Recycle Solutions' purpose is twofold as it tries to help clients decrease their trash output and increase their environmental sustainability - in other words, it hopes to make Memphis a greener community.

"First, we try to avoid the cost of the landfill for customers," said Huber, the company's operations manager. "The second piece is if we can provide some kind of revenue stream back, we try to do that as well."

The revenue stream is derived from the end product. In other words, once Recycle Solutions processes the paper, plastic or food waste, the company can often sell that recycled material to other companies for reuse.

The amount of revenue depends on the type of product and its value on the open market, minus the cost of transportation, handling and processing that Recycle Solutions fronts. But the service allows Huber to cut plenty of checks to clients each month.

So not only does Recycle Solutions keep waste out of the city's landfill, it puts money back in the pockets of business owners. That's why getting them to consider their trash output is becoming an easier sell, he said.

"From an environmental standpoint and from a profitability standpoint," Huber said, "we're asking those folks to look at it in a different way."

Adaptive reuse

Recycle Solutions has 70,000 square feet of facilities on its property divided into four buildings. One is dedicated to processing for Wal-Mart Stores Inc., while another is for the remainder of its corporate clients' paper, cardboard and plastic recycling needs.

A third building is where industrial food waste is recycled and sold for animal feed: Recycle Solutions' facility is licensed by the Tennessee Department of Agriculture for this use.

And the fourth building is designed for storage, as the company is a Perdue Farms Inc. distributor of fertilizer that has been converted from chicken manure.

The company is aided in these processes by industrial balers that process waste and reduce it to a fraction of its original size for easy delivery. In addition to 12 docks on site, the facility also has a rail spur that can service 10 train cars with access to three rail companies: BNSF Railway Co., Canadian National Railway Co. and Union Pacific Corp.

"They're all three here, so we can be serviced by any one of them," Huber said.

The company has identified the city's large base of distribution and manufacturing companies - from Presidents Island through South Memphis and into DeSoto County - because of the waste they generate each day, especially with shipping and packaging materials.

"What a distribution center throws out is wood pulp products like wood pallets, cardboard, paper, those types of products," Huber said. "Also plastic products - stretch film, plastic pallets, different plastic components.

"But my target customer really is anybody who moves a lot of trash."

Good for purse, environment

One customer who moves a lot of trash is Chris Gammill, owner and operator of 1-800-GOT-JUNK? Memphis. The company removes all kinds of junk from homes and offices, and Gammill has been using Recycle Solutions more and more since the facility opened last summer.

"We have a goal this year to recycle as much as possible - 100 tons," Gammill said. "I told Mark, 'Hey, we want to be ambitious with our recycling efforts this year,' and he said, 'I'm on board. Whatever you need, let's go for it.'"

The environment is important to Gammill, which is why he bought into the franchise in the first place. And having a place like Recycle Solutions gives him a chance to be green while saving some green.

"I like to keep things out of landfills," Gammill said. "It's important to me personally, but it makes good business sense as well. It's important for us in both ways."

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