By William Turley, Associate Publisher & Editor, C&D World Magazine
Below is a recent article published in C&D World magazine about Sun Recycling, one of our recycling customers in Florida.
The evolution continues, this time in a nicer climate. And like human evolution, a step along the way was someone freezing at night and using wood to keep warm.
It was a cold night in New York City in December 1978 and Anthony Lomangino, a new partner in the familys waste hauling business, was transloading 20-cu-yd roll-offs of C&D into larger boxes to be transported to the landfill because a labor strike had taken away the usual crew. He was pulling some of the metal out before shipping, but it was cold work. He pulled out a barrel from a load, and started putting some of the wood in it and lit it on fire to keep warm. He burned enough wood that night to eliminate sending one of the larger boxes to the landfill, saving the company $150 in tipping fees.
That was a lot of money in those days, said Lomangino, adding that by keeping the fire going after dark sparked the company into saving thousands of dollars and went from a break-even-at-best operation to profitable almost over night.
It also taught the company, which eventually became Star Recycling, the value of recycling and landfill diversion, and propelled it into one of the first waste firms to do C&D recycling in the United States. It graduated from a dump-and-pick operation to a mechanized facility by going through several iterations of its processing techniquean evolution.
Fast forward to 1999, Lomangino, who along with the rest of the companys principals, sold their interest in the New York operation to Waste Management 24 months earlier, has finished two years working for the waste giant, and is retired. He moves to Florida, but he doesnt golf or fish, and thinks he is too young to do nothing. Together with his nephew, Charles Gusmano, he bought a small C&D hauling operation. It was a lot different from New York.
C&D was like a red-headed stepchild in Florida then, said Lomangino. Truck drivers were only making $10 an hour, and if you ordered a box you were lucky if you got it in four days. Not a very well run industry. The hauling company, Southern Waste Systems (SWS), was part of the movement that professionalized the industry in South Florida. Now the average truck driver makes $20-plus an hour, and delivery is the same or next day. Competition is now stiffer, but it is a more sophisticated, professional industry.
The company rode Floridas growth during the next several years, building up to its current level of 10 facilities, that include transfer station and recycling plants, nearly 7,000 roll-offs, mostly 20 yarders, and 65 trucks to service them. Lomangino said they also introduced highly sophisticated C&D recycling to the area. The waste industry down here is just now realizing how recyclable C&D is. Disposal prices, while still nowhere near those in New York, have moved up far enough for people to consider purchasing $10 million systems to recycle C&D.
His company certainly has. SWS sister company, Sun Recycling, has a green waste processing site, four large mechanized mixed C&D sorting systems and five other transfer stations, spread around the southeastern part of the Sunshine State. The most comprehensive and sophisticated site is in West Palm Beach, which has a mixed C&D sorting facility as well as a wood shredding operation and a concrete aggregate crushing system.
The entire site is outdoors, but is located in an industrial area and is surrounded by windscreens on all sides of the property. The site, permitted for 5,000 cu. yards per day, is one of the most sophisticated sorting systems in the C&D recycling industry. The mixed C&D sorting system starts with the material being dumped on a concrete pad. C&D comes in from a variety of sources, not just from SWS. An excavator, usually an EC 240 Volvo, uses either a Pemberton or Stanley LaBounty grapple to sort through the incoming and feeds it into the processing system. The grapple removes large wood and concrete, and sends them directly over to the proper processing facilities for those materials.
The first step for the material to be sorted is a finger screen that drops out the 10-inch minus to a second line, the more automated part of the system, according to Paul Valenti, operations manager. The overs continue up an A line and are sorted by as many as eight pickers. They are looking for cardboard, aggregate, wood, and, of course, metals. The 10-inch-minus that went over to the B line hits an over head magnet first. It then travels up to the first trommel screen that takes an 1½-inch cut.
We wanted to do this cut at the top of the B line because otherwise you get too many fines. We wanted to get all the dirt off the line before it went into the de-stoner, said Gusmano.
This smaller material goes down to another trommel. The trommel separates the half inch, leaving an overs of 1½ inch to half inch. This latter split goes through a small GK de-stoner that takes out the lights (plastics, wood, popcorn Styrofoam) and leaves the metals and the rock. After another magnet, the result is a pea gravel that is very valuable in the South Florida market.
The other material over 1½ inch travels up through another sorting line and passes through another de-stoner that blows the lights out of the back of the plant. The remaining material makes a 90° turn on a new wraparound belt that goes to a C line for more sorting by pickers. A lot of that material is wood and non ferrus metals.
All the aggregate heads across a paved space to a concrete recycling system, which for now is the only one Sun Recycling has, but there are plans to add a second system because the first system was supposed to move around from site to site but it is kept so busy here it hasnt moved in the five years since we bought it, said Gusmano. A large crusher is the size reduction technology for the Sun Recycling site. The three-bar crusher has a 56- x 35-inch feed opening and is powered by a 510-hp diesel engine. Aggregate to be processed is fed into the 19-cu-yd feed hopper by a loader with a 7-cu-yd rock bucket.
Crushed material is sent to a single-deck screen. Only two products are made, Valenti said. A ¼-inch minus is prized by paving block contractors because the unhydrated cement left in the concrete fines really set the stones in place. The rest is made into a 57 stone product that has no problem getting moved, even in a slow market. Everything we make is basically gone as soon as we make it. We only have 2,000 tons in the yard right now, which is not a lot, said Gusmano. One market Sun does not sell into is the state highway environment. Our crushed products meet Florida Department of Transportation, but it is not certified, he said. If the DOT were to come in and test our material, they would find it meets their spec. We are working to move that process along.
Also on the site full time is one of Sun Recyclings two Morbark 7600 horizontal grinders. These units have a 76- x 65-inch infeed opening and a 49 ½- x 72 ¼-inch hammermill. In West Palm Beach, the grinder is used to make a boiler product and mulch, and both are pretty easy to make as the customers, only want it sized to 4 inch. Both the sugar mills for the fuel and company who colorizes the mulch want to check for contamination, said Gusmano. Both grind it again at their facilities.
Sun Recycling has an interesting philosophy regarding its mobile equipment and maintenance on its C&D sorting systems. First, for the loaders and the excavators the company trades them in relatively new at only 8,000 to 9,000 hours. We like to trade them in at about three years because we feel at that point they start breaking down, said Gusmano. Plus we feel the better the operator feels about running his nice and clean machine, the more productive he will be.
But the C&D sorting plants, at least their cores, are at least 10-years-old. And the amount of tons that Sun has put through those operations must have had some wear and tear. These are not new plants, and you must stay on top of them and fix the little things before they get bigger, said Gusmano. The company has a mechanic go through each plant twice a day. The first is at lunch break, and if something looks like it is going to break, it will be changed out. If it looks like it will make it to the end of the day, then it will be fixed then. If you as the owner keep the operation neat and clean, they will maintain it like that. If you keep it looking like junk, they will maintain it like junk.
Lomangino said in 2008, Sun Recycling recycled 84% of the material it took in. As mentioned, it has strong markets for aggregate, wood, and, of course, metals. Shingles are a difficult material to find a market for, as well as drywall. Because only the ½-inch cut off the second trommel is considered the fines material, it is only 15% of the total output of the plant.
But he also believes very strongly zero waste is possible for C&D recycling in Florida. He lists a couple of reasons for that optimism. Last year we recycled 84% of the 3 million yards we took in, and that was before the most recent modification to our facility in West Palm Beach with the addition of the third line, said Lomangino. We are now experiencing 90% or better. And in Florida, incineration is recycling. So we have tested the residue that is coming out of the back of our plants and found it has a very high Btu value. We are pulling all the dirt, rock, and metal out, so what are you left with? Little pieces of plastic, paper, and wood. We can hit 100% if we bring it to a waste-to-energy facility.
Hitting 100% is a long evolution from picking some wood out of the pile and burning it to keep warm on a cold New York night.