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Recycling demand leads to a $2.5 million investment at Rumpke

Demand from consumers and businesses is the driving force behind a major upgrade at the Rumpke recycling facility in Dayton.

Rumpke Waste and Recycling Services recently invested $1.5 million in a new sorting system purchased from Canada-based Machinex, and $1 million in a dust collection system from KICE Industries in Wichita, Kansas. The dust collection equipment is being added to a glass sorter which was was installed in 2011 at the plant at 1300 E. Monument Ave.

“This system will pull those two commodities from the single stream mix that we collect at the curb. It will help us save time and money,” said Mike Bramkamp, Rumpke Recycling regional vice president.

The upgrades were needed due to the increase in recycling from the region the company collects in, which includes Montgomery, Greene, Preble, Clark, Miami, Darke, Champaign, Shelby, Auglaize and Mercer counties.

“More and more people and companies are looking to more sustainability. They are demanding recycling. I see it everywhere I go. You see it at special events, at the airport, you see it at home, you see it at work,” Bramkamp said.

This newspaper got a first look at the new equipment, which Rumpke officials said takes in 500 tons of commercial and residential recycling a day.

A Rumpke truck filled with residential recyclables backed its way into the building and dumped its load on the floor of the facility, a bulldozer then pushed the items into the intake chute of the new machine. No presorting is needed. The machine then flattened the cardboard, plastic, and glass, as it pulled the items up and along a conveyor belt.

As the items raced by, four workers at the top then pulled out items that were not recyclable or could cause problems with the machinery, i.e. large pieces of metal, coat hangers and grocery bags.

“One of the strangest things we’ve ever seen was a deer carcass,” said sorter Mary Dysinger. “It’s amazing what people think is OK to throw into a recycling bin.”

The items moved along the belt and over a rotating drum, called a disk screen, which had several plastic grocery bags caked onto it. The plastic bags should not be recycled with Rumpke, Bramkamp said.

“They hurt our system because they will jam up the disk screens and we have to stop and do maintenance on them to clean them out,” Bramkamp said.

More than 90 percent of the glass Ohio consumers and businesses throw away ends up in a landfill, according to the Ohio EPA. That’s why glass recycling is a priority in this area, Bramkamp said.

“We work really closely with the Ohio EPA; it’s a goal they identified. A lot of glass is going into landfills in Ohio and there are a lot of manufacturers that need glass. We are pulling that glass out of the waste stream, so we can get it to manufacturers who will reuse it,” Bramkamp said.

One noticeable thing about the facility, although it’s filled with thrown away items including old food containers, wet paper, and used bottles and jars, is the lack of smell.

“It’s a very quick turnaround in our industry, most of the recyclables are sorted within a few days,” Bramkamp said.

“A newspaper is a great example. You put the newspaper in the recycling on Monday, that following Monday, the newspaper you are reading is made from the content you put out for recycling. Most things get recycled within two-three weeks,” Bramkamp said.

The EPA estimates the average person creates more than four pounds of trash per day. But more people are doing something about that, according to state numbers. In 2012, 28 percent of all waste was recycled, which is more than the statewide goal of 25 percent.

In the city of Dayton, recycling volumes increased 17 percent between 2011 and 2012, according to city data. In 2013, the rate increased slightly, but was more of a plateau, according to city manager Tim Riordan.

“More and more people are cognizant of the impact they have on the environment and want to do the right thing. We are finding ways to recycle more efficiently and that enables us to offer recycling to more people and businesses,” Bramkamp said.

One of the region’s biggest recyclers is the Dayton Dragons, according to Rumpke.

“Forty-one percent of the waste we take in is recycled,” said Brandy Guinaugh, Dayton Dragons vice president of sponsor services.

The Dragons recycle 120,000 pounds of trash every season, including 14 tons of cardboard, according to Guinaugh.

“I think you have to create a new habit and make it easy for people to recycle. We have containers strategically placed near the regular trash cans so it’s not something fans are going to have to go somewhere else to do,” Guinaugh said.

Another major business recycler is LexisNexis in Miamisburg.

“We have about 3,000 employees here so we are like a small city,” LexisNexis facilities administrator Randy Dinnison said.

Rumpke statistics show the company recycled nearly 109,000 pounds in 2013. That figure does not include paper because the company sends documents to Cintas to be shredded.

“By the end of this year, we will also be doing most of our document recycling with Rumpke. It will be nice because it will simplify things, one can for trash, the other for recycling. We are going to roll that out within our seven buildings, one at a time,” Dennison said.

Navistar in Springfield, Evenflo in Troy, and Whirlpool in Greenville are other major recyclers in the Miami Valley, according to Rumpke.

“Those might be the biggest recyclers, but we are trying to get down to a level now where its just a normal business with 40 to 50 employees,” Bramkamp said.

Rumpke is sending teams door-to-door to solicit recycling from businesses that have not been recycling.

“If a business can get a recycling program going they can reduce their garbage bill, and often the small cost for recycling can be offset by that reduction. We are definitely trying to encourage businesses to recycle more, and we are starting to get some positive response to that,” Bramkamp said.

Reporter Cory Froelik contributed to this story.

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