Short on employees and facing tighter margins, one Wisconsin recycler finds success.
When faced with new challenges, Chris Burt looked beyond his company’s scrap yard to new revenue opportunities. He saw potential in offering more mobile services, which since have led to considerable company growth and success. Grapple Bucket
As the general manager of Marshfield Scrap, Marshfield, Wisconsin, Burt wears many hats. One area of expertise is his knowledge of equipment and how to make the most of it. When presented with an opportunity several years ago to outsource some of the company’s idle machines, Burt saw it as a chance to increase the machines’ use and bring in extra revenue.
An interest in the environment motivated Marshfield Scrap President Lisa Larson to get involved in the recycling industry. Larson is the primary owner of the Marshfield, Wisconsin-based company. Soon after graduating with a degree in biology from the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point, she joined the company and made an immediate impact on the firm’s marketing.
Chris Burt, general manager, says Larson has helped the firm establish more contacts.
Earlier this year, she traveled to the annual Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) Convention & Exposition in Las Vegas for continuing education and a close-up look at the latest equipment on display.
“We’ve got equipment in six other yards periodically—whether it’s excavators with demolition grapples, a machine with a magnet on it or an orange peel grapple with a magnet or baler—or going and doing some custom shearing,” Burt says.
For the past 22 years, Marshfield Scrap has served customers’ recycling needs. Outsourcing construction equipment from the company’s main facility in Marshfield started about five years ago when Marshfield Scrap purchased a scrap yard in Ironwood, Michigan.
“We’ve been supporting other scrap yards with either equipment or trucking or [by] whatever means necessary,” Burt says. “We see that everybody has the same set of problems: Keeping good help is hard, equipment is expensive and margins are tight. A lot of times in these yards, equipment doesn’t get full utilization. But if we can work with other smaller yards or [yards] of equal size to us and can start supporting them with some of our equipment, then that’s how we've seen growth in our mobile services.”
In a commodity industry where prices fluctuate, Burt says taking this approach is not only good for Marshfield Scrap, but it helps other recycling companies stay in business.
“If you can co-op your equipment with other smaller yards, and you’re moving the machines around, it keeps that equipment busy all the time,” he says. “It’s easier to amortize it, pay for it and everything else. We still have our main yard. But our business model has been geared towards mobile services a lot more in the last five to seven years. And that’s been my main focus: trying to build that mobile services division.”
A main source of income for Marshfield Scrap is supplying metal to Waupaca Foundry Inc. When material arrives at Marshfield Scrap, it’s sorted and readied for processing. Five mobile shears are kept busy processing metal into a package that is acceptable for the foundry.
“That’s been our focus: the 3-foot package that we put into Waupaca,” Burt says. “And that’s been our strategic advantage, too; we’re one hour away from that facility. We’ve found that the shears are our best value-added labor item.”
Other companies certainly can grade, sort and load material. Burt says, “You’re a glorified trucking company,” but “once we started putting some value-added labor into things, that’s the direction we went, supplying a foundry because of the proximity.
“And that’s part of the reason we were able to support some of these other smaller yards. They don’t have big volumes. But the cumulative volume between all of those yards is substantial enough that we're able to get a decent-sized contract every month and know that we got a good material flow. And then by having that contract, we’re able to protect those small yards from fluctuations in pricing and the spikes and drops in the markets.”
Nearly 100 percent of the metal that arrives at Marshfield Scrap is recycled, and Burt and the employees are particular about the material when it arrives in a roll-off or lugger container. They’re careful to ensure that the inbound scrap metal isn’t dirty or contaminated.
As you might expect, Marshfield Scrap relies on a variety of equipment to handle the volume of ferrous and nonferrous metal delivered to its facility. Two mini excavators are complemented by two larger crawler excavators. Recently, the company purchased its first material handler—a DX225MH-5 manufactured by Suwanee, Georgia-based Doosan Infracore North America, with an orange-peel grapple attachment and a 36-inch magnet—from Swiderski Equipment, with five locations in Wisconsin.
“That material handler allows us to sort material, stage material for shears and then sort and clean materials,” Burt says. “It’s better. It’s not the old-fashioned groundwork where you got a bunch of ground guys trying to sort material. But it’s not a mechanical sorting system like a shredder would be.
“The reach on the material handler works well for us because it allows us to sort the material and load the trucks without having to move,” he continues. “You’re not doing multiple setups.”
Having a range of machine sizes in a fleet is the name of the game for today’s recyclers. Burt Marshfield Scrap bought a DX180LC excavator with a 335 shear from Genesis Attachments LLC, Superior, Wisconsin, because “it was fairly easy to move around” compared with a previous excavator and shear combination. Some larger pieces of equipment had even bigger shears mounted to them. That presented problems for Burt.
“Those pieces of equipment are hard to get in and out of small yards,” he explains. “They’re tall. You get some bridge problems. So, moving those things around is a lot more difficult than moving around that Doosan DX180LC with a Genesis mobile shear on it. Any lowboy trailer, and away you go.”
Smaller excavators play a leading role in production for Marshfield Scrap, too. Two 8.5-metric-ton DX85R-3 mini excavators are ideal for smaller jobs, such as loading roll-off boxes, Burt says. He says Marshfield, Scrap has loaded gondola trailers with the mini excavators. A quick-tach mounting system makes it easy for Burt and his operators to switch their priorities.
“We’re able to switch over to a third-member shear for downsizing equipment and then go back to the bucket and thumb for loading,” he says. “So they’re pretty versatile. That’s why we went with the one with the steel tracks on it.”
In terms of the durability of the company’s excavators, the operators put the machines through their paces each day.
“You’re asking for 5,000 psi at 120 gallons a minute at the end of a stick,” Burt says. “And you’re asking for that over and over and over and over and over. In a day’s time, you’re talking probably three to four cycles per minute. And you’re talking eight-hour days. I mean, you don't make a machine do that under normal circumstances.”
Having reliable, comfortable equipment not only helps companies like Marshfield Scrap stay productive; it’s a tool for recruiting and retaining operators.
“Having newer, better equipment has been a big deal for these guys,” Burt says. “If they feel like their comfort and their productivity and their overall job satisfaction is important, well, you want to put them in a good piece of equipment. You want to make them feel that you appreciate everything they’re doing. And you really do, because, without them, everything grinds to a halt.”
The site in Toledo, Spain, converts recycled PET flake into food-grade rPET pellets.
Plastipak, with North American headquarters in Plymouth, Michigan, has announced the formal opening of a major recycling investment at its manufacturing site in Toledo, Spain, by Don Emiliano García-Page, president of the Castilla-La Mancha Region. The new recycling facility converts recycled polyethylene terephthalate (PET) flake into food-grade recycled PET pellets suitable for direct use in new preforms, bottles and containers, the company says. The company first announced the investment in May 2021.
The new recycling plant will produce 20,000 metric tons of food-grade recycled pellets per year and will eliminate recycled resin transport-related emissions because it is co-located at Plastipak’s current preform manufacturing site. The recycling plant is Plastipak’s fifth such facility, with other recycling plants located in USA, France, Luxembourg and United Kingdom. In Europe, Plastipak is the largest producer of food-grade rPET, with more than 150,000 metric tons of rPET capacity per annum.
Pedro Martins, Plastipak executive managing director Europe, says, “The use of rPET is a key tool in reducing our customer’s Scope 3 related emissions and forms an important part of their ESG- [environmental, social and governance-] packaging related commitments. As well as supporting our customers to reduce their financial obligations under the planned Spanish plastics tax, the plant will also contribute to meeting the minimum recycled content levels mandated by the Single-Use Plastics Directive.”
To support on-site energy generation, the facility incorporates energy-saving technologies and equipment that includes the rooftop installation of more THAN 1,800 photovoltaic (PV) solar panels. The PV panels are expected to generate more than 1,339 megawatt-hours of electricity per year that will be consumed entirely on-site, saving more than 443 metric tons of CO2 per year through the avoidance of consumption of electricity from the national grid. This is in addition to the CO2 avoided by using the 20,000 metric tons of recycled resin instead of virgin resin, the company says.
Jack Pacente, vice president of Global Sustainability, says, “We are delighted to open another world-class PET bottle-to-bottle recycling facility, complete with additional investment in emissions-reduction initiatives, demonstrating our leadership in the circular economy. Already, 100 percent of the electricity Plastipak consumes in Europe originates from renewable sources, and the installation of PV panels is our second on-site renewable power generation project in the European region. Long-term emissions reduction is a core pillar of our ESG program, demonstrated by our registered commitment to the Science-Based Target Initiative.”
David Stajninger, Plastipak’s Global Recycling business manager, adds, “Plastipak began recycling postconsumer bottles in 1989 to support our customers at a time when postconsumer resins were not widely available for bottle-to-bottle applications. This expansion further reinforces Plastipak’s global strategy of having high-quality integrated rPET material to continue to meet our customers’ growing needs.”
The latest DeltaFlow grades are designed to optimize stable melt flow and efficiency using the latest viscosity-modification technology.
Milliken & Co., Spartanburg, South Carolina, has introduced its latest DeltaFlow Viscosity Modifier for recycled polypropylene (rPP), based on what it says is the latest viscosity-modification chemistry.
At the K Show in Düsseldorf from Oct. 19-26, the company displayed its broad portfolio of plastic additives and colorants, which includes these new grades of DeltaFlow. Milliken’s viscosity modifiers are solid concentrates designed to specifically help polypropylene (PP) recyclers by increasing the melt flow rate of rPP for injection molding processes. This serves to reduce energy use and enhance circularity, the company says.
The newly developed DeltaFlow grades use the latest viscosity-modification chemistry. The technology also has lower volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and improved organoleptics and could complement the advances being made in recycling machinery, Allan Randall, global product line manager, says. DeltaFlow-optimized rPP allows for lower processing temperatures, which can enable converters to significantly reduce processing temperatures, reduce energy use, boost productivity and improve processability, Milliken says.
Brand owners stand to benefit, as well. DeltaFlow enables rPP to feasibly replace virgin resin in many end-use applications. This allows brands to use more rPP in their products, thereby helping them to meet their sustainability goals, according to the company.
“Demand in the market for recycled content is only increasing,” Randall says. “These products enhance the properties of rPP and make it more suitable for more applications, thereby helping to close the loop in more end uses. Our goal is to enable more and better utilization of rPP. This product line helps to deliver on that promise.”
Milliken offers this latest viscosity-modification chemistry in an easy-to-handle, nondusting, solid concentrate form for the recycling market. “Our initial focus will be on Europe, but we intend to offer these DeltaFlow options globally,” Randall says.
Through Bipartisan Infrastructure Law investments, EPA is expanding the scope of existing technical assistance, including five new subject-specific grants totaling $57 million over five years.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced requests for applications for $57 million in funding that is available for two new brownfields technical assistance opportunities: one for new Brownfields Technical Assistance and Research cooperative agreements and another for Technical Assistance to Brownfields communities. Both grant funding opportunities will help provide technical assistance for the expansion of community-driven planning for assessment, cleanup and reuse of brownfield sites across the country while creating good-paying jobs and supporting local economies.
The grants are funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which included $1.5 billion to scale up community-led brownfields cleanup and revitalization.
“We know that technical assistance is a huge priority for communities and local governments overburdened with environmental challenges,” says Carlton Waterhouse, EPA deputy assistant administrator for the Office of Land and Emergency Management. “So, beyond our grant tools, we’re significantly expanding our technical assistance to communities and stakeholders at no cost, specifically targeting communities who have not yet benefited from EPA brownfields investments. With this funding from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we will remove longstanding barriers to brownfields reuse and spur new redevelopment to transform communities into sustainable and environmentally just places.”
EPA is seeking request for applications to award five new Brownfields Technical Assistance and Research cooperative agreements, where each selected provider will do one of the following activities:
Applicants can apply for multiple activities, according to a news release issued by the EPA.
The awards will range from $500,000 to $1 million, depending on the subject area of focus, for an approximate total of $4 million. The period of performance will be four years.
EPA will host an outreach webinar for prospective applicants Dec. 8 from 1 to 2:30 p.m. EST. No advance registration is required. Those interested can join via Zoom.
The second funding opportunity EPA is seeking request for applications for is $5 million in grants to provide training and technical assistance to communities across the country through the Technical Assistance to Brownfields (TAB) Program. EPA will award a total of $5 million over a five-year period of performance for each geographical region that corresponds to EPA’s 10 Regions and $3 million for nationwide support for a total of $53 million across five years.
For the technical assistance providers conducting research on behalf of EPA’s Brownfields Program, the period of performance will be five years and the award will be up to $500,000.
The existing TAB program is funded by EPA and available to all stakeholders at no cost to communities. TAB providers serve as an independent resource and can provide specialized technical knowledge, research and training to help stakeholders understand the complex brownfields-related subject matter and guide them through the brownfield assessment, cleanup and revitalization process, the EPA says.
Additional technical assistance is provided to brownfields communities on the integration of environmental justice and equitable development when developing solutions to brownfields cleanup and revitalization challenges via Groundwork USA. Groundwork USA provides nationwide technical assistance to coach and train brownfields communities on a variety of innovative and effective community engagement approaches to promote brownfields revitalization that supports uses that all community members can enjoy and from which they can benefit.
EPA will host an outreach webinar for prospective TAB applicants Dec. 7 from 1 to 2:30 p.m. EST. No advance registration is required. Those interested can join via Zoom.
Applications for both funding opportunities are due by Feb. 14, 2023, via grants.gov. The request for application notices are now posted on the FY2023 Application Resources for Brownfields Technical Assistance page.
The pontoons are made with Bluewave, a recycled plastic made from postuse plastic collected at riverbanks and coastal areas.
PlasticBean, a company of Singapore-based Archwey, has announced a partnership with EDPR Sunseap, a clean energy solutions provider based in Singapore, to use Bluewave, a recycled plastic made from ocean-bound and local postconsumer plastic, to build pontoons to support a solar farm.
The companies say floating solar farms allow for the construction of enormous generators of renewable energy without using land. They can be constructed on any large body of water, such as lakes or reservoirs, where the cooling effect of the water makes the solar panels more efficient than land-based panels and have the potential to generate more energy than roof or ground-mounted systems.
Floating solar installations traditionally are built using pontoons made exclusively from virgin plasti. Archwey’s thermoplastic Bluewave removes the need for virgin plastic, using postuse plastic collected at riverbanks and coastal areas.
In the past 18 months, Archwey says it has recycled 32,500 metric tons of plastic that would otherwise have found its way to the ocean. Its circular model removes waste from the environment and prevents the use of more oil in addition to creating less greenhouse gas emissions during manufacturing, therefore ensuring decarbonization.
“Using virgin plastic in the skeleton frame construction of renewable energy farms defeats the purpose—taking precious fossil fuels from the planet while aiming to reduce its dependency on oil,” says Archwey CEO Sjoerd Fauser. “By using Bluewave, a recycled and recyclable material, in the construction of floating solar farms, we can dramatically reduce the use of virgin plastic and help make this industry genuinely sustainable.”
Scrap Magnet Fauser adds, “This strategic partnership with EDPR Sunseap, a pioneering energy provider, is an important milestone in our mission to reverse the damage humanity has done to our planet over the past century. Like us, they believe a better future is possible. This is a huge step to a truly sustainable world.”