Commercial recycler adds line, boosts production
Where some see trash, Chris Biesler sees big bucks.
Biesler, president and general manager of Nevada Recycling & Salvage, a waste transfer station on Telegraph Street in Reno, unveiled a million-dollar recycling line at the facility that allows workers to easily sift through mountains of debris to separate valuable plastics and cardboard from “dry” (non-food) waste that previously was taken to the landfill at Lockwood. The program has proven so successful that plans are in the works to expand the footprint of Nevada Recycling & Salvage to create more floor space for dumping.
Biesler has long sorted cardboard and metals from commercial waste brought to Nevada Recycling & Salvage, but workers were unable to keep up with the heavy volume of debris being dumped. The new sorting line allows workmen to separate up to 12 different recyclable materials, which are baled and sent to Newport CH, a recycling brokerage that exports products overseas, primarily to China, Japan, South Korea and Pakistan.
Here’s how the new operation at NRS works: A bulldozer pushes piles of waste onto a large conveyer, which pulls it to a crew of workmen waiting on an upstairs catwalk. They furiously sift the rushing tide of detritus for four grades of plastics, six grades of cardboard and newspaper and white letter paper.
Bales are loaded either onto trucks or directly into shipping containers if they are bound for foreign markets. Full containers leave the United States through the Port of Oakland.
“From my door to China takes almost a month before they unload the box,” Biesler says.
Sales of the baled materials will allow Biesler to recoup his investment in the operation in about three years, he says.
“There is quite a market for some of the commodities,” he says. “Clear plastics are probably the hottest commodity out there.”
Under Washoe District Health Department regulations, Nevada Recycling & Salvage can accept up to 3,800 cubic yards per day of waste, or 1.38 million cubic yards per year if the facility is open every day. The company can accept up to 125,000 cubic yards of commercial waste annually from customers under the terms of the City of Reno’s franchise agreement with Waste Management.
Nevada Recycling & Salvage’s single-stream recycling program targets recyclable-rich commercial clients, such as the region’s large furniture and sporting goods stores. Other notable clients include Whole Foods, Summit Racing, Costco and Western Nevada Supply. A partner firm, Green Solutions Recycling, delivers front-loading cans for participating businesses to collect their recyclable materials. Larger clients also receive a compacter to deal with heavy volumes of loose cardboard and plastic waste. Customers receive a per-ton rebate on their trash collection costs.
“We’ve invested several hundred thousand dollars in the front-loader business for trucks and bins for our customers,” Biesler says. “We also spent several hundred thousand dollars on compactors, and we have placed about 150 or so balers to customers who bale their own cardboard.”
Customers who dump on site still provide the bulk of material being diverted from the regional landfill. The industrial baler at Nevada Recycling & Salvage produces five to 30 bales an hour that weigh between 1,600 and 1,800 pounds.
“That is about four times what I was doing a year ago,” Biesler says. “We are moving a lot of material.”
Before bringing the sort line into operation, Biesler had up to 20 or more workmen manually sifting through a mountain of debris — a method that ultimately proved ineffective. The sort line allows them to sift through approximately 10 times as much material in half the time, and in May Biesler plans on hiring up to 20 more employees to staff the line.
Biesler also has plans in the works to expand the company’s facility, as well as begin a program to recycle wood waste from construction and demolition sites. Wood will either be pelletized or chipped for use at wood-fueled power generation plants.
“Wood is our next big endeavor,” Biesler says. “Pellets on the export market are a hot commodity in Japan and South Korea, where they are converting from coal. There is a big market, and it’s a long-term market.”
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