Scratching the surface

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Town & Country Environmental Services is the first C&D MRF in North Texas, and thanks to a thriving construction industry and growing interest in LEED certification, it won’t be the company’s last.

November 9, 2015

The bigger the better, and in the case of Champion Waste & Recycling Services’ first single-stream construction and demolition (C&D) recycling facility the company recently opened in Texas, that is a lesson now learned. Champion’s new Town & Country Environmental Services (T&CE) opened in early summer 2015. T&CE Vice President Paul Kuhar says not only has business flourished, it has opened new avenues of opportunity.

“We have been operating only a few months and it went from zero to 60, which has been incredible,” Kuhar says.

There is so much incoming material, he says, that the dual-line system could be replaced with a three- or four-line system to handle the C&D loads. The company has already identified more commodities that require additional bunkers, according to Kuhar.

“Where we’ve been really surprised is there is so much material that I would make our next system much larger. There’s so much opportunity sometimes it makes me speechless,” Kuhar says.

The company’s C&D material recovery facility (MRF) has outpaced daily incoming loads in such a fashion that Kuhar has had to add equipment as the days go on. A new horizontal baler will permit workers to pick an additional line as material drops off into a baler. A Rotochopper wood grinder was recently delivered to process various grades of wood for multiple products. And several pieces of auxiliary equipment, transfer trailers and roll-off trucks have been making their way into the Celina, Texas, facility.

While this is the first C&D MRF Champion has opened, Kuhar assures his company will have additional facilities coming online in the Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) area. Champion also runs a commercial recycling MRF and provides recycling containers for permanent, temporary and special event use. The next facility and system, he confirms, will be much larger in size.

Kuhar says, “The program has been a huge success, and with the No. 2 C&D MRF in the talks, it will be much larger [so as] to divert and recycle the various construction waste streams we have already identified from our C&D MRF.

“By the third one,” he continues, “it will be perfect.”

Full-time flexibility

Kuhar says Champion settled in North Texas to open the area’s first C&D MRF as there are numerous large-scale and LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) projects occurring daily. “Our goal was to finally provide a recycling solution to the Dallas-Fort Worth construction industry to divert and recycle construction materials,” Kuhar says.

These types of projects, and the overall positive construction industry in The Lone Star State have contributed to T&CE’s busy workdays.

“Construction is booming,” he says. “In Texas alone, there is tremendous amount of growth here in the construction sector.”

T&CE is seeing the effects of new construction in its operations. Kuhar says incoming loads are mostly all new construction materials. The volume of demolition is lower considering the amount of new construction going on, he says.

In addition to the material that comes from TC&E roll-off containers and trucks, the public and third-party vendors drop off material loads to the facility. When collected material arrives at T&CE, trucks are weighed on an inbound scale (there also is an outbound scale). The scales are equipped to properly log percentages for specific materials so as to calculate loads for LEED diversion reports. Trucks then pull onto the tipping floor and dump materials. Using a Volvo 120 wheel loader, material is pushed into piles while a Volvo excavator with a grapple bucket loads material to the primary Finger-Screen manufactured by General Kinematics (GK), Crystal Lake, Illinois, which pioneered the application of vibratory separation and helped T&CE design its C&D MRF line, Kuhar says.

With the initial sort based on size, the Finger-Screen makes a 6.5-inch cut on the primary material, which heads to the A-Line. Cardboard, metal, Grade A and Grade B wood, sheetrock, large concrete and plastics Nos. 1-7 are picked. Smaller items fall below to a 90-degree conveyor, hitting the cross-belt magnet, pulling metal and materials sized from 2.5 inches to 6.5 inches. Smaller materials continue on for further screening on a 2.5-inch-minus Finger-Screen, which creates either fines or alternate daily cover (ADC) fluff.

The remaining material on the B-Line is 2.5 to 6.5 inches. Concrete and brick travel down the conveyor belt and into a dual-knife GK De-Stoner air classifier. The last bit of material is considered refuse-derived fuel (RDF). T&CE is working with sources on its end product for RDF and ADC fines.

Kuhar says each customer has requested a different specification, which is another unique aspect of T&CE. The company is able to offer a customized approach for each individual. It is a high level of service, Kuhar recognizes.

“We’ve explained to people when we partner with them that we can make the ingredients for the recipe,” Kuhar says. “The biggest benefit is we can give an end user or potential buyer of a finished product exactly the spec that they want. We have that flexibility.”

He continues, “People may have been skeptical about C&D recycling [in Texas]. Now that the system has been running a short time, people see the opportunities we’ve created for them.”


Going above and beyond

Champion Waste & Recycling Services started in the Dallas-Fort Worth area nearly 15 years ago, with two new trucks, 20 containers and zero customers. President Michelle Kuhar and husband Paul Kuhar credit their experience to Michelle’s parents, Frank and Carol Giannattasio, who have been serving the waste and recycling industry since the early 1970s, owning and operating various companies from the East Coast to the Southwest U.S.

To continue developing his industry knowledge and to enhance his education, Paul Kuhar has pursued industry certifications, specifically those with the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), a certification program through the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), Washington.

Kuhar and his associates are LEED Green Associates. According to the USGBC, a LEED Green Associate demonstrates a solid, current understanding of green building principles and practices. A LEED professional credential signi?es that the person is a leader in the ?eld and an active participant in the green building movement, USGBC says.

In February 2016, Kuhar says he is scheduled to earn his LEED Accredited Professional (AP) credentials, which affirms advanced knowledge in specialized areas of green building, expertise in a particular LEED rating system and competency in the certification process, according to USGBC. It is suited for practitioners actively working on LEED projects to showcase their deep technical knowledge of LEED in both principle and practice.

“It’s just doing those things that are above and beyond what everyone else is doing,” Kuhar says.

As he prepared to open Town & Country Environmental Services (T&CE), Champion’s new construction and demolition (C&D) material recovery facility (MRF), Kuhar says he traveled to various recyclers’ facilities to learn the best practices for opening such an operation. He describes how Tallahassee, Florida-based Marpan’s Kim Williams and Davie, Florida-based Sun Recycling’s Paul Valenti had “wise words” and offered their facilities for a tour to Kuhar.

“My family has been in the business for a very long time,” Kuhar says.

He adds, “The investment we made is a big investment and you want to make sure when you’re going to do it that you’ve got all of the information.”


Gladly going green

For contractors building new and pursuing LEED, Kuhar says Champion shared the frustration experienced with builders prior to T&CE’s opening. With source separation, cross contamination always was an issue. Haulers would lose entire loads (and therefore LEED credits) due to contamination.

Kuhar explains, “We did some LEED projects that were prior to this system source separated and we saw that frustration. And it was frustrating for us as a hauler because you’d see other nonconforming materials in the source-separated containers.”

Thanks to word of mouth and awareness, companies that had not considered themselves “green” are today reaching out T&CE to pursue LEED certification and become a more sustainable company, Kuhar says.

He describes, “With LEED jobs, I have more construction sites today that are non-LEED that are using our program than actual LEED jobs. Why are they doing that? Because their company culture is to recycle and work with a company that sees sustainability as the future.”

Kuhar notes how a number of Texas construction companies are using T&CE’s role of recycling C&D debris as bragging rights.”

He explains that T&CE offers the “simplicity of recycling” without contractors having to worry about separating materials. They can instead focus on building, as materials are tossed into the same containers at the job site. “Leave the sorting to T&CE,” Kuhar says he tells customers.

Kuhar says, “People who weren’t big recyclers have told us, ‘We’re not a big green company, but you’re allowing us to become green because we don’t have to work at it.’”

Small contract cleanup companies that once sent all collected materials to landfill have since started using the facliity to promote the recycling program to new home builders. T&CE has teamed up with one large home builder to make the vision of being green a reality.

Materials on the move

Champion Waste & Recycling Services has been running a commercial material recovery facility (MRF) for years, which has brought in collected loads of old corrugated containers (OCC), paper, plastics Nos. 1-7, aluminum and glass. The company opened its first single-stream construction and demolition (C&D) MRF in Celina, Texas, in summer 2015. Town & Country Environmental Services (T&CE) accepts some of the same materials as the company’s commercial MRF. As a C&D MRF, incoming materials do vary as loads of concrete, brick and sheetrock make their way to T&CE’s conveyor belts. The materials accepted at T&CE and its end uses are:

  • Wood – ground, used as playground material, mulch, an additive in composting, boiler fuel and as a component of solidification of liquid waste in landfills
  • Metal – melted and recycled into new steel by end user
  • Cardboard – baled and recycled into new old corrugated containers (OCC) by a Pratt Industries facility
  • Plastics – baled and exported to China, some reground domestically for new products • Concrete – used for road base
  • Brick – recrushed and sold as a low-class road base
  • Sheetrock – used for a soil amendment

T&CE Vice President Paul Kuhar says he sees the C&D MRF as “the ingredient maker for the bakery. It’s really what we do.”

While T&CE has end markets for all of its materials, Kuhar says this is just the beginning.

“I truly believe we’ve just scratched the surface of all of the avenues we could pursue,” Kuhar says.


Ripple effect

Kuhar points to a ripple effect that has occurred since T&CE’s opening: The company was invited to bid on “a very large facility” and after landing that job, he says business for the single-stream C&D MRF “has really just taken off.”

T&CE has since sent containers to Liberty Mutual Insurance, which announced in early 2015 that it plans to open a new campus in Plano, Texas. The nation’s third largest insurer expects to hire 5,000 workers for the North Texas location by the end of 2017.

“We get a couple of calls every day that say, ‘We’re building in this city and the city said we need to recycle and told me about your facility,’” Kuhar says.

Much of Kuhar’s time since opening T&CE has been spent educating Texans that such a facility exists.

While El Paso Construction and Demolition Recycling has been running a full scale C&D MRF since 2007, according to President Sean Gillespie, Kuhar says T&CE is the only C&D MRF in North Texas and surrounding areas.

Kuhar adds, “We really only just scratched the surface. As a huge welcome reception this has been, true waste diversion and recycling have only begun.”

One opportunity has derived from the material seen most in C&D debris loads and at T&CE: ground wood. For one customer who used to purchase Class A wood from a generator, he has since learned that T&CE provides a steady flow of material. Kuhar says, “He came to my facility and saw the pile of beautiful Class A wood and asked, ‘You sorted that out of all of that mixed material?’ and I replied, ‘Yes, we do.’”

He adds, “When you go to the tipping floor, the pile is integrated with sheetrock, Class A and Class B wood, concrete, etc., and it’s unbelievable it came in looking one way and we were able to extract it another way and divert all that material that was previously entering landfill.”

Kuhar concludes, “Our main focus is to divert, recycle and recover C&D material from entering a landfill.”


The author is associate editor of Construction & Demolition Recycling and can be reached at