Above and beyond

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Tallahassee, Fla.-based Marpan Recycling takes recycling of mixed C&D debris and other materials to the next level.

April 29, 2014
Kristin Smith

Marpan Recycling, based in Tallahassee, Fla., has been recycling mixed C&D material since 2008, but with a Class III recycling permit and a recent contract with the city and Leon County, Fla., for single-stream recycling, Marpan is recovering a whole lot more than wood and concrete.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) defines Class III waste as “yard trash, construction & demolition debris, processed tires, carpet, cardboard, paper, glass, plastic furniture, appliances or other materials approved by the department that are not expected to produce leachate ... ”

So it’s not uncommon to see Marpan employees ripping out foam padding and metal from a mattress or salvaging car bumpers and five-gallon buckets from its mixed loads. Marpan is constantly growing its end markets to find outlets for the various materials it accepts. Its president, Kim Williams says when the facility first opened in 2008, it sorted and sold 15 different commodities and in 2009 it increased to 27. By 2010, Marpan was recovering 33 different end products. “Today, we separate and sell somewhere in the neighborhood of 70 different commodities,” Williams says.

Opening the Class III recycling facility didn’t happen overnight. Marpan purchased the property in 2005, but the permitting process took a few years. During that time, Williams said he would attend C&D recycling events and read Construction & Demolition Recycling magazine for insights into the business. “I’d read a story and I’d be intrigued about a process or about a market and I would call people,” he says. “I was invited to a number of facilities around the country to see how they did their C&D recycling, which helped design the facility.”

Marpan built a 25,000-square-foot processing facility in Tallahassee, designed and constructed by Sherbrooke OEM, Sherbrooke, Quebec. It was the first Class III recycling facility to open in the state of Florida. The recycling operation is an extension of the container and hauling company Marpan has operated since 1967.

It was while operating the hauling company that Williams had the idea for opening a recycling facility. “I couldn’t in good conscience continue to go to a landfill and throw away things that were very easy to recycle,” he says.

Williams says as haulers, the company was delivering about 200 tons a day to the local landfill. Williams predicted volume would double at the recycling facility when it opened in May 2008, but he says, “At the end of the day, all we had was 200 tons. We realized real soon that the volumes we had anticipated when we built the facility weren’t going to be there. It was about 50 percent of what we hoped for.”

Then in January 2009, the local landfill closed to everybody but Marpan, so material that once went straight to the landfill had to be processed through Marpan’s Class III facility first. But Williams says, “Even with the landfill closing, diverting materials to us, we were still only receiving 200 tons a day. We realized if we were going to have more recyclables, we had to find it.” So Marpan set about picking more items out of the material stream.

Breaking tradition

Marpan also began processing curbside material from Leon County for the firm Waste Management, Houston. The operation began as a small separate line to process the dual-stream recyclables (paper and containers sorted separately) it received. Then Leon County and the city of Tallahassee had discussions about moving to single-stream recycling.

Marpan Recycling at a glance

Headquarters: Tallahassee, Fla.

Principals: Kim Williams, president

No. of employees: 81 total (Marpan Supply and Marpan Recycling), 46 at recycling operations

Services provided: Class III (includes C&D debris) and single-stream recycling

Equipment used: Class III: mixed C&D plant from Sherbrooke OEM with screens and Destoner air classifier from General Kinematics; Single-stream: plant consists of various used equipment, includes a modified finger screen with a ballistic separator from General Kinematics and Metal Tech Systems.

Materials recycled: More than 70 different commodities

Tons recycled annually: 60,000 tons from Class III facility and 17,000 tons from the single-stream facility

Williams says, “I started going and looking at single-stream facilities. The difference was, I owned a C&D facility and I liked the type of screens that we had.” Williams points out that most single-stream facilities use disc screens while Marpan’s C&D facility uses a star screen and finger screens.

“I wanted to use a finger screen as my primary screen, and we were able to work with General Kinematics and Metal Tech Systems to design a rod deck (a modification of a finger screen), to make a primary screen for our single-stream facility,” says Williams. “We just broke away from the industry completely because we were experienced with that style of equipment from a maintenance and performance standpoint.”

Using the modified finger screen with a ballistic separator at the single-stream facility greatly cut down on maintenance, in Williams’ opinion. “If you had a lot of maintenance on the screen it would adversely impact your bottom line,” he explains.

Williams does recognize that a higher-volume single stream facility may need a different screening technique to achieve higher velocity, but Marpan’s configuration works well and is cost competitive for the volume it gets from the 280,000 residents of Leon County, he says.

Using C&D recycling equipment at the single-stream recycling facility also allows Marpan to use the same staff at both the Class III and single-stream plants, which opened in January 2013. Marpan is processing an estimated 1,400 tons per month through the single-stream facility in addition to the 5,000 tons of C&D and other Class III materials it processes per month.

Mutual benefits

While the two recycling facilities are separate, Marpan is able to capitalize on having both plants on one property. Because of the single-stream facility, Marpan can collect similar plastics in its Class III plant and “quickly build a truckload,” according to Williams. “Otherwise you might sit on that stuff for a long time.”

Another benefit to colocating is that residuals from the single-stream material recovery facility (MRF) can be processed at the Class III plant. “We actually take the residual of our single-stream plant, put it on the floor of our C&D plant and run it down the line to get one more look at it,” says Williams. Marpan has recovered ferrous scrap and aluminum cans using this method. Additionally, the residuals of the Class III facility are the only material out of both facilities that needs to be compacted and taken to landfill.

“We get a lot of visitors from communities of our size who are interested in building either a C&D or single-stream facility,” says Williams. “I think it is important for people to see it, especially the C&D industry, which is my primary industry, to know how to do it the right way to produce a high-quality product.”

Williams emphasizes the importance of quality and for good reason. “We try to keep the quality consistent because if we lose the trust in the customer, it is hard to get it back,” he says.

Finding efficiencies

Tapping young talent

Operating a Class III recycling operation allows Tallahassee, Fla.-based Marpan Recycling to accept a wider range of materials than a traditional C&D recycling facility. Figuring out how to keep all of those materials out of the landfill can be a challenge. Luckily for Marpan President Kim Williams, he’s got a nearby resource of bright young minds he can tap into.

Williams is on the board of the Florida State University Research Foundation. Through his connections, he says, “I’ve had opportunities on numerous occasions to meet with their students to create projects that would use recycled material and create a higher value for it, and to look for new ways to recycle items that aren’t currently recyclable.”

In one project, students created a windmill that used a servo motor from a discarded copy machine printer in conjunction with a solar cell. The idea behind it was to provide a power source to people in third world countries. “The two together would provide enough current to charge a cell phone or battery for LED light,” says Williams.

Students also have worked on developing solutions for composite material, gypsum and glass. “The students love to be involved with a recycled material process,” Williams says. “They come up with great ideas.”

About 40 percent of the incoming Class III loads come from Marpan trucks. The other 60 percent come from other haulers, local residents and smaller contractors. Marpan has an inbound and outbound scale. The two-scale configuration was a result of Williams’ experience at the landfill. “Having experienced the landfill before we built our facility, we spent a lot of time having to wait. Having one scale didn’t seem like a very efficient process for us,” he says.

Williams says by installing two scales, Marpan has been able to reduce time at the recycling facility as compared with the landfill by 20 minutes.

When trucks arrive at Marpan Recycling, they are directed to a tipping floor where their loads are dumped. An excavator loads material onto an apron conveyor, which feeds the finger screen. The unders fall onto a B line where they move across a magnet and screen and are met with several hand sorters before finally going through a Destoner air classifier. “The A line continues straight and the big stuff is removed by a cadre of manual sorters,” describes Williams.

Marpan processes wood in somewhat of a nontraditional way, by using electricity instead of diesel and a vertical grinder instead of a tub or horizontal grinder. Williams calls the facility’s wood process, “A very important design.”

Williams says he learned of the configuration from a European salesman he met at a Morbark Demo Days event selling slow-speed, high-torque shredders primarily for wood reduction.

“He told me he was able to shred the material into 12- to 18-inch pieces then run it through a trommel to remove dirt and across magnets to remove metals,” he explains. Then he took the material through a vertical electric mill. The businessman told him it was the most energy efficient way to grind wood. Williams estimates Marpan saves about 36 gallons of diesel fuel per hour by operating the high-torque shredder and electrical grinder. He adds that grinding wood in a vertical manner drops the wood down a shoot thereby eliminating the hazard of flying wood pieces.

Marpan takes the wood down to a two-and-one-eighth-inch minus product. The company produces three different colors of garden mulch from C&D wood. “The problem with mulch is it is seasonal,” says Williams. “We still need another market for it, and in that instance we use it for biomass fuel and burn it for electricity.”

End-market advice

Williams says C&D debris or “any other product in our buildings or on our facilities that someone might find less than pristine” can be somewhat challenging to recycle because of the various rules and regulations on burning biomass fuel.

According to Williams, “There’s a lot of good fuel going out the back door of our building, and it is a shame that it gets buried.” He says the U.S. needs to be more like Europe by getting better at recovering its residuals. “We need to be more insightful in that regard and less afraid to try new technologies,” he says.

Williams says that with any secondary commodity, it is necessary to “start with the end in mind. My experience is if you don’t have a process and a finished product to show the market, you can’t sell it,” he says.

Commodities recovered at Marpan’s single-stream and Class III facilities are met with mixed success depending on the markets for each product at any given time. Williams says the mixed paper market continues to struggle, while plastics have held steady. Also, volume is picking up overall. “We are up 20 percent from where we were,” says Williams. “We are seeing some significant increases in our hauling business, particularly through the winter, and we have noticed a lot of pickup in the past 30 days, which leads me to believe we are going to exceed what we did last summer.”

Williams has witnessed numerous changes to waste collection, hauling and recycling over the years, and the company has always been able to adapt and grow. The past few years have been particularly challenging, entering new areas of businesses during a time of economic downturn. As Williams describes it, “It has been one hell of a ride through the longest recession in my lifetime, and we have survived it and are looking forward to a robust market.”


The author is managing editor of Construction & Demolition Recycling and can be reached at ksmith@gie.net.


More with Marpan: Visit the Multimedia section of www.CDRecycler.com for a video interview with Marpan Recycling President Kim Williams and for a look inside Marpan Recycling’s Tallahassee, Fla., operations.

Online sidebar: Read about Marpan Recycling President Kim Williams’ first recycling venture online in the sidebar “A bright idea” at www.cdrecycler.com/cdr0514-bright-idea.aspx.