Most people over the age of 30 don’t like to discuss their age. I certainly fall into that category, and as people around me get older, it seems as though that sentiment gets stronger with every year that goes by. I have had many a colleague, friend or family member who have hit the major age milestones of 40, 50 and 60, and trust me, they don’t like to talk about it.
So why have I decided to broach the touchy subject of age? Because as business owners in the demolition and recycling industry, it is up to you to pass on your knowledge to the next wave of young people who will one day be managers, presidents and CEOs. Many multigenerational firms out there are already doing this, but attracting new people to the business is just as important.
The National Demolition Association (NDA), Doylestown, Pa., recently held its annual convention at which it hosted for the first time a leadership development training course. Led by Dr. Shirley Ramos of management consulting firm FMI in Raleigh, N.C., the program was designed to expand the skills and knowledge of the next generation of leaders so that they are equipped to manage in the future. Another session focused on employee recruitment.
NDA Executive Director Mike Taylor contends studies have suggested young people in the U.S. don’t view construction as a desirable field, while to rest of the world, the U.S. construction industry is renowned for its work. This lack of interest combined with retirement among baby boomers being at an all-time high has created what Taylor says is “the biggest problem that the construction industry in the United States has.”
I think the NDA is on the right track with how it is trying to solve this problem. It seems with its education initiative, the association recognizes the importance of developing future leaders and educating current ones.
I wish soon-to-be retirees the best of luck when they begin the next chapter of their lives. I hope you’ve been taking the time to impart your wisdom to your colleagues. But that is not all. I’ve talked to many demolition contractors and recyclers who are so passionate about the work they do. If you can figure out a way to pass that on, therein lies the key to keeping future generations interested in this line of work. You’ve certainly had an effect on me, and for that I will do my part to help inspire people through our industry coverage in Construction & Demolition Recycling magazine.
Wood waste in Covington, Tenn., used to be a waste stream that incurred hefty landfill and hauling costs for the city of 9,000 residents. That is until the city’s mayor, Dr. David Gordon, put some serious effort into researching energy-from-waste options.
Gordon admits he has a natural curiosity when it comes to the topic of renewable energy. “I tell folks I’m a confirmed nerd,” says Gordon, who is a veterinarian by profession. “I enjoy getting into the technical and scientific part of things.”
The mayor took an interest in biomass gasification about four years ago, after attending a presentation on the topic at an event hosted by the Tennessee Renewable Energy & Economic Development Council (TREEDC). Gordon found the subject of biomass gasification fascinating in its own right. He also thought the technology might be useful in his city.
“I started looking at the process of biomass gasification and thinking of how it might apply to the city of Covington,” Gordon says.
Gordon was specifically wondering about a way to decrease or eliminate the city’s monthly cost of around $11,000 to haul and landfill about 360 tons of wood waste and dewatered sewage sludge. Each day the city collects about 10 tons of wood trimmings. The city also must dispose of two tons of dewatered sewage sludge daily from its wastewater treatment plant.
“We started looking at a way to eliminate the hauling and landfill costs and at the same time produce a usable commodity or service,” Gordon explains.
In what became a four-year process, the city successfully collaborated with PHG Energy (PHGE), a maker of downdraft gasification systems for biomass based in Nashville, Tenn., and General Electric Co.’s Power & Water Division to produce a new $2.3 million facility that is designed to do what the Mayor hoped. It is also a shining example of a city’s resourcefulness and collaboration that could be repeated elsewhere and for other waste streams.
Studying a solution
The mayor’s growing knowledge of biomass gasification told him that the city’s wood waste and sewage sludge might become a benefit to the city if these streams could be used to produce electricity, either for sale back to the local grid or for the city’s own use. Toward that end Gordon also looked into the possibility of selling electricity produced through such a process back to the local provider, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA).
It wasn’t long before the city connected with PHGE and the timing happened to be right for the two entities to collaborate. At the time the mayor approached PHGE, the company was conducting research on six of its gasifiers that had been installed in 2008 at a former brick plant in Gleason, Tenn. The gasifiers had been installed to offset natural gas use at the plant.
Mike Webb, director of business development for PHGE, says Mayor Gordon visited the site in Gleason looking for a way to utilize the waste material instead of putting it into the landfill.
Meanwhile, PHGE was testing the use of syngas from its gasifiers to feed a 1-megawatt (MW), gas-powered Caterpillar generator it had installed, along with a gas cleaning system. “We designed it, built it, installed it, ran it and sold electricity,” says Webb of the project. The feedstock was scrap wood from a nearby wood flooring facility.
“We were cleaning up the gas,” he says, then using it to power the generator. Electricity was sold back to TVA. However, after several months of studying the process, PHGE determined it was not ready for commercialization, Webb says.
“Running the cleaning process is too expensive,” he says, explaining that the syngas first had to be cleaned to remove tars and particulates that would otherwise harm the generator. “That really is the problem with producer gas going to a generator,” Webb observes.
In part, thanks to the city of Covington’s inquiry, PHGE kept studying the matter for the better part of a year and ultimately encountered a solution that could work for its gasifiers. PHGE found that by using a standard heat exchanger and a generator employing Organic Rankine Cycle (ORC) technology—specifically GE’s Clean Cycle generator—no cleaning step was necessary.
Webb describes arriving at a sort of “aha” moment in the company’s research when the PHGE team realized, first, that syngas from the gasifiers could be combusted to power an oil heater, and second, that the ORC generator kept the conversion to electricity relatively easy to accomplish.
“We looked at it and said, ‘Why don’t we create heat with a thermal oxidizer and then run the ORC,’” explains Webb. PHGE engineers then proposed the idea to experts at GE. “They said, ‘No one has tried that, but OK.’ And it worked.”
“The lowest cost and easy-to-operate system we could find was the GE ORC Clean Cycle Generator,” explains Webb. He notes that while a steam generator is more efficient and can produce more electricity, steam generators also require a significantly greater amount of maintenance. “With an ORC generator, it just sits there and runs as long as it has heating and cooling provided,” he says.
“It was, as far as either of us know, the first time someone had used the ORC directly fed with producer gas to make electricity,” says Webb. In the past he says the generator has typically been used to capture waste heat in other applications.
In the PHGE-Covington setup, the gasifier produces syngas that is combusted in a thermal oxidizer to feed the ORC generator. “It’s also a great emissions control device,” says Webb of the standard thermal oxidizer because all the tars and particulates present in the syngas are destroyed via the combustion process. “You then use that heat to power the ORC,” he explains.
Webb says there currently aren’t many downdraft gasifiers in use in the U.S., and there aren’t many companies building them. The ORC technology has been popular over the last decade, according Webb, particularly in Europe. “These two things came together at this point in time,” he observes.
After several months of research, PHGE presented its solution to the city. “We did a lot of calculations and said, ‘This will have a positive cash flow from day one,’” says Webb.
Initially, Gordon wanted to utilize a gasifier capable of producing enough syngas to power a 1-MW generator. However, as a result of PHGE’s recommendations, and some utility constraints, that had to be scaled down. PHGE also determined there wasn’t sufficient feedstock to power the larger generator.
The city opted for a 125-kilowatt (KW) system that required a thermal oxidizer and a GE ORC. “When we looked at it in total, it seemed to fit the process and our fuel sources a bit better,” says Gordon.
In July 2012 the city contracted with PHGE to construct the $2.3 million waste-to-energy (WTE) plant, located on city-owned property next to its wastewater treatment plant. Construction began in April 2013 and the plant became operational in September 2013.
The resulting system comprises a downdraft gasifier from PHGE that can gasify 12 tons of feedstock per day and supply 6 million Btus of producer gas per hour. The plant also includes wood chipping and material handling; chip and sludge mixing and drying; gasification conversion of the feedstock to gas; a thermal oxidizer; and an oil heater to provide heat to power the ORC generator. About half of the energy produced by the plant goes to feed the parasitic process. What is left over is enough to cover half of the neighboring wastewater treatment plant’s energy needs.
“We combined three proven technologies into the system we have, so we are no longer hauling our woody waste and sewage sludge, and we are producing electricity that will essentially run half of our sewage plant,” says Gordon.
Gordon says the equipment is designed and expected to last for about 25 years, and if it does, the city will be able to save about $4 million in excess of paying for the project, which has been earmarked for development of the city’s parks system, the mayor says.
While all of PHGE’s gasifiers run using similar technology, Webb says the company makes models large enough to power a 1-MW ORC and produce 1 MW of power, “so this scales up beautifully,” he says. Though it hasn’t yet been done to that scale, says Webb, he believes it could be appropriate for regions or municipalities that are geographically distant from transmission lines or in regions where electricity is very expensive.
Webb says the gasifier also could be fed with C&D debris, which is one of the feedstocks PHGE has tested, however it must be blended with wood materials.
“Because of the chemical content of that waste, we need to mix it with a wood product so it will gasify in our machines,” he says. The company has determined that C&D debris needs to be blended in about a 50-50 mix with wood materials.
“There’s a lot of chemistries going on,” says Webb of C&D waste, which typically comprises shingles, wallboard, insulation and plastics. “To keep the chemistry consistent, we’d like to blend it with wood chips of some sort. We can use about 10 percent plastics in our process so we have to blend it to get to that level.”
Meanwhile, Gordon says the city worked to be transparent in its plans, and encountered no resistance from the community for the renewable energy facility. Gordon says while he is a staunch supporter of environmental causes, this project also had to make sense financially in order for him to support it.
“I’m a supporter of improving the environment, but using taxpayer money, it couldn’t just be for a warm and fuzzy feeling,” Gordon explains. “It had to make financial sense and all parts of this had to be considered to convince me to go ahead with the project.” He says the permitting process took less than a year.
According to Gordon, most residents are excited about the new WTE facility. “This has really become a source of community pride because we are on the forefront of this technology.”
Gordon says the city currently is looking at additional feedstock sources, too. For example, a nearby industrial paper company is interested in contributing paper scrap from its production processes. Gordon says he also is looking into the use of scrap tires, though he admits that stream brings its own challenges.
Using C&D debris comprising purely wood also could be a possibility, says Gordon, as long as the material is free of metals and rock. “With those types of things going into the chippers and into the processors, that decreases the life of those machines tremendously,” he points out.
However, Gordon reports the city is currently in talks with a nearby custom window and door factory interested in contributing one of its waste streams from a production process to the gasifier. “I don’t mind looking at other options if we can make sure it works and make sure it’s financially feasible,” he says.
The author is a managing editor of the Recycling Today Media Group and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The development of a new solid waste facility involves a multitude of tasks, including design, engineering, permitting and construction. Permitting is crucial to the success of the project and must begin early in the process, as it is time consuming and can affect the project’s overall schedule.
This article will describe the successful permitting of a construction and demolition/inert debris (C&D/I) transfer and processing facility in South Gate, Calif., from its inception to the ultimate operation of the facility.
The Construction and Demolition Recycling Inc. facility in South Gate is a fully permitted C&D/I processing and transfer facility. It is owned and operated by Interior Removal Specialist Inc., a company that primarily demolishes the interior of offices and other commercial buildings. The facility is permitted to receive 3,000 tons per day of material and primarily processes material from its own demolition operations as well as C&D debris generated by others. The facility has a high landfill diversion rate and, throughout the past several years, has diverted between 80 and 90 percent of all incoming materials for reuse and recycling.
Since 1994, the company has been family owned and operated. The site originally included 7 acres housing the company’s equipment yard, where it stored its trucks and tools. In 2002, recognizing a growing interest as well as requirements to divert C&D materials, the company embarked on the process to develop its facility.
The facility has obtained four major permits:
- Conditional Use Permit (CUP) – The CUP is the land-use approval issued by the city. Initially, the facility obtained a CUP from the South Gate Planning Commission in June 2003 to allow for the operation of a processing facility for materials generated by the company’s interior demolition contracting business. In 2007, Amendment No. 1 to the CUP was issued to allow the facility to increase tonnage up to 3,000 tons per day and to process the materials generated by the company and others.
- California Environmental Quality Act Review – For the initial CUP, the city of South Gate conducted a review of the potential environmental impacts of the proposed facility and approved a Negative Declaration in June 2003, indicating the facility would have no significant impacts on the environment. A Mitigated Negative Declaration was approved for Amendment No. 1 in May 2007.
- Solid Waste Facility Permit – The County of Los Angeles, Department of Public Health, Solid Waste Management Program issued this permit in 2008, which allows the facility to operate as a transfer/processing facility for C&D/I materials and to process up to 3,000 tons per day. The facility is permitted to operate 24 hours per day, seven days per week and to accept only C&D/I materials. Following the initial permit, in 2013 the facility was required to apply for a five-year permit review and, at that time, amended the permit to incorporate a grinder for processing up to 500 tons of green material per day as a part of the daily permitted capacity of 3,000 tons per day.
- Stormwater Permit – A Notice of Intent for a General Industrial Stormwater Permit (NPDES) was filed with the California State Water Resources Control Board. In addition, a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) and Monitoring Program Plan (MPP) were prepared and implemented at the facility. The SWPPP and MPP detail the steps the facility takes to prevent, control and monitor stormwater runoff.
Solid waste permit process
To obtain a Solid Waste Facility Permit in California, the facility operator must complete and submit to the local enforcement agency (LEA) a solid waste facility permit application and a processing facility report. The requirements for applying for a permit, and the requisite accompanying documents, are detailed in Title 14 of the California Code of Regulations (CCR), Division 7, Chapter 5.
At the outset of the project, it was decided to pursue a full Solid Waste Facility Permit from the state of California with a 3,000-ton-per-day capacity. At the time, the existing quantity of incoming materials would have required a smaller permit, which would have necessitated less time and resources to complete the permitting process. However, it was anticipated that, eventually, the facility would need a larger permit. The effort to go through the permitting process again at a later date, including duplicating some environmental reviews, such as traffic studies, would have resulted in additional costs. Therefore, the company applied for the full permit and decided to develop the facility in phases based on the anticipated tonnage to be processed.
Phase I was proposed to be developed between years one and two, with a facility capacity up to 500 tons per day; Phase II was proposed to be developed in year three, with a capacity up to 1,500 tons per day; and Phase III was proposed between years six and 10, with a capacity of 3,000 tons per day. Phase III was structured to allow the facility to continue at the Phase II terms until such time as the facility tonnage surpassed the 1,500-ton-per-day mark, regardless of timing. This ensured that the facility would not have to purchase expensive equipment to satisfy Phase III requirements before the facility was bringing in enough tonnage to justify the expense.
This phasing of the facility allowed the operator to add equipment and personnel as necessary to process the daily tonnage received.
The application is relatively straight-forward, with check boxes to highlight the types and quantities of material to be accepted and processed, anticipated traffic and hours of operation. The application also asks for information on other permits or approvals that have been obtained or applied for. The application is not considered complete unless accompanied by other approval documents, including the Land Use Permit and Environmental Review as well as the Transfer Processing Report (TPR).
The TPR is the operations and maintenance manual for the facility, and it provides descriptions of facility activities, operations, design and capacity and must describe all methods that will be used to comply with the state minimum standards for solid waste management. The report includes all of the following:
- A description of the waste receiving activities, including where vehicles will enter the facility, what the weighing procedures are and how the materials will be unloaded in the tipping areas. Individual unloading areas are designated for the receipt of source-separated materials and for materials that require processing. For materials that are not recovered, the waste transfer process is described, including how the transfer vehicles are loaded and any temporary staging of vehicles prior to leaving for a permitted disposal site.
- The Facility Design Capacity includes calculations to substantiate that the facility can handle the throughput capacity without causing environmental harm or safety problems. The calculation include the number and types of trucks entering the facility and the size and capacity of the receiving areas as well as the anticipated tipping/unloading times and capacities.
- The types and quantities of materials received at the facility are indicated in the TPR, including the anticipated average annual loadings for the first 10 years of operation. A load-checking program implemented at the facility ensures only the permitted types of materials are accepted at the facility.
- TPR also must describe the methods the facility will use to comply with the state minimum standards for solid waste handling and disposal, contained in Title 14, CCR, Division 7, Chapter 3. For a complete list, see the sidebar “Staying in Compliance” below.
SCS Engineers, Pasadena, Calif., was contracted to complete the application, which included the TPR, site plans and other supporting documents. The application package was reviewed by IRS personnel prior to submitting to the LEA. Under state regulations, once the application is accepted by the LEA as complete, and within 60 days of receipt of the application, the LEA must submit the proposed permit package to the state agency CalRecycle (California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery) for review. CalRecycle then has 60 days to concur or object.
The entire process took approximately 3.5 years from commencement of the application through receipt of the Solid Waste Facility Permit. It was considered to be a major accomplishment for getting the facility environmental and permit documents completed and approved in that short amount of time.
The facility continues to expand and recently added green waste processing and transfer operations for materials collected from residential curbside collection programs and commercial landscapers. The facility also is evaluating the potential to host a technology to process waste into renewable energy or other beneficial uses.
This article first appeared in the December 2013 issue of Construction & Demolition Recycling’s sister publication Recycling Today. Michelle P. Leonard, vice president of SCS Engineers, Pasadena, Calif., authored this article with help from Richard Ludt, director of environmental and public affairs/LEED accredited professional, at Interior Removal Specialist Inc. Leonard can be reached via email at MLeonard@scsengineers.com.
End markets for C&D materials vary from region to region. C&D processors need to bring the right materials into the yard in the right sizes and send the right materials out to willing purchasers.
“Here where we are in the Silicon Valley there is a lot of construction and demolition work going on,” says Michael Gross, sustainability director for Zanker Recycling in San Jose, Calif.
But no matter where a C&D operation is located, how different its lines are configured or what size screens it uses, managers agree on two basics for success.
“The most important things in this business are knowing your end markets and having them lined up in advance,” says Jason Salisbury, president of Landfill Reduction and Recycling Inc. (LR&R), Appleton, Wis. “That determines the success of your operation.”
Gross agrees. “Know your product and the markets before you get into the business. A lot of people think it is easy, but the material won’t sell itself,” he says.
Knowing your own job profile helps, too. Interior Removal Specialist Inc. (IRS) of South Gate, Calif., handles debris from tenant improvement projects such as office building remodeling.
“Demolition is a time and money driven process,” says Richard A. Ludt, director of environmental affairs with the firm. As a result, some fine granite countertops or marble flooring are not recovered for reuse. Rather, they are treated simply as another bit of aggregate for the process. “I can’t afford to take the time to take it out slowly,” he explains. “That granite is just more inert material … just another rock.”
Interior jobs generate a lot of millwork, particle board, doors and cabinets for IRS. Last year, it handled 36,000 tons of debris, with 32,000 tons of that produced from in-house jobs.
Gross finds the best way to stay ahead is by having someone else do as much of the sorting as possible before the material gets to the recycling yard.
Zanker offers variable rates based on how clean a load is when it arrives at the facility. For example, a clean load of wood will have a lower disposal rate than one that includes oversized trees. Inbound clean wood fetches $8 per cubic yard. Brush and small tree trimmings bring in $13. A load with palm trees can be worth as much as $28.
Wood typically is the big volume maker in C&D operations, and for most C&D recyclers it needs to be sized. For example, wood is the largest single fraction handled by LR&R, representing 27 percent of the company’s incoming stream.
All incoming wood is sorted on a line. It then runs through a Rotochopper MC 266 wood chopper and is put over a 4-inch baffle screen.
“We grind to a 4-inch-minus,” Salisbury says. The company sorts to two grades; the higher grade is intended for landscape mulch and goes to boiler operations with strict emissions requirements. A second Grade B product goes to boilers that aren’t as strict.
At IRS, 12 percent of the inbound material is wood, but it only has one use. “All of my wood is only good for waste-to-energy,” Ludt says. “We can’t compost it or use it for landscaping.”
The situation is far different at Zanker. Last year the company sold 151,000 tons of compost. The material comes from the municipal solid waste (MSW) stream or from yard trimmings.
Zanker’s mulch is made from clean lumber and comes in two sizes as well as three colors: black, red and brown.
“We sell everything bulk, mostly to landscapers,” Gross says. One of Zanker’s current challenges is developing the markets for the products.
While IRS does have a sort line, most of the sorting is done by hand. “I don’t size reduce. I just take it out and have it hauled away,” Ludt says. The company follows a somewhat different approach that a number of California operations have found profitable: It uses a third-party company called Ecology Auto to haul the material.
Ecology began as a pick-a-part auto operation and subsequently has entered into trucking and on-site wood grinding for C&D operators.
Perhaps the most interesting fraction LR&R handles is vinyl siding. Many yards avoid vinyl because of the chlorine challenges involved with the market.
In this case, LR&R acts more as the external arm of vinyl manufacturers. The company’s main market is selling the recovered vinyl back to manufacturers who reuse the material in its process.
One of the more complex materials to handle at any C&D operation is the concrete and aggregate fraction.
Zanker often has nine people working on a concrete crushing line. Sticks, plastics and the like are classified with an air screen while magnets pull out steel.
“We crush and screen aggregates,” Gross says. This also is mirrored by the company’s mixed debris and demolition debris sorting process.
“We pull off 16 items,” Gross says. Some of the items, like copper and used beverage containers (UBCs), are sent to other recyclers who specialize in those areas. Fractions Zanker handles regularly, including the aggregates and the wood portions, are sent to the appropriate Zanker facility.
Handling concrete is a challenge. As part of any concrete crushing, a recycler has to expect that there will be metals embedded in the concrete. “Contamination is a big problem. We just don’t get pristine concrete,” Gross says.
A clean load of No. 1 concrete sized to 3-feet-minus, with no wire, rebar or wood is $12 at Zanker. Bring a load with rebar and wire, and the fee goes up to $22. A load of No. 3 material—defined as one that might be mixed with brick, soil or asphalt—costs $45 a yard.
Zanker uses the same basic system with different screens depending on what end product it is producing. It has a track-mounted screening system it uses for pea gravel or smaller rock.
Until recently, LR&R broke aggregates and crushed them on-site, but it now works with a third party. The aggregates are broken into chunks to size them and then are processed to achieve a 3-inch size or smaller.
“Generally, this market is end-user driven,” Salisbury says. This holds regardless of the material being sorted. “We usually are sending the same material to the same customer,” he says. Dealing with the same customers allows the company to meet the specific requirements of the buyer’s needs.
In addition to wood and vinyl, LR&R handles aggregates, dry wall, ceiling tiles, cardboard, ferrous and nonferrous metals and does secondary processing of wire for copper and brass. “Steel, by far, gives the best return,” Salisbury finds, although he adds the company also does well with nonferrous metals.
No matter what the material being handled or the quality of material coming across the scale, knowing the product and the end markets remain the keys to success. C&D operators can make money with almost anything as long as they are close to markets and work to develop them.
The author is a freelance writer living in the Cleveland area. He can be contacted at email@example.com.
|// Scrap Iron RMDAS
No. 1 Heavy Melt Steel Pricing
(Per Gross Ton for No. 1 HMS scrap)
// Stone and Aggregate Pricing
Wood fiber costs, which make up about 60 percent of pulp manufacturing costs for hardwood pulp producers, have fallen 17 percent in two years, and in the third quarter of 2013 the costs were the lowest they have been since 2009. (Source: Wood Resource Quarterly)