Healthy recycling markets divert materials from the waste stream, convert the materials into commodities, and supply them to manufacturers for the production of new products. The businesses that process and use those commodities are critical to the system. In fact, without businesses that use recyclable material to make products, we can't have recycling.
The closing of some large overseas markets for recyclables has placed added pressure on Minnesota recycling processors that must now sell domestically. The MPCA has offered recycling market development grants that will help increase demand for recycled materials in the state. Minnesota companies use the grant dollars to enhance the value of raw materials or increase their use of recycled commodities. Four recent grant awards went to projects that will not only boost consumption of recycled materials, but also create jobs and enhance the state's economy.
Bicycle Glass Company (Fridley)
- Grant: $55,500 (total project: $74,450)
- Material: Glass
With its Hotspot Expansion Project, the company will be able to use an additional 30 tons of post-consumer glass per year. Bicycle Glass primarily makes pendant lighting, but with this project, it can expand into home décor, tiling, and other lighting products. The company anticipates adding 15 jobs as a result of the project. The grant money will fund modification of furnaces and kilns and provide for adding annealing conveyors to increase capacity and cooling, and allow flexibility to change colors.
Poly Plastics (Owatonna)
- Grant: $50,000 (total project: $75,000)
- Material: Film plastic
Poly Plastics will use the grant funds to purchase a plastic film converyor system with magnetic separation. The equipment will allow the company to remove metal contamination from post-consumer and post-industrial film plastic, making it recyclable. Currently, this material must be thrown away. The project has the potential to recycle 125-500 tons a year of previously unrecyclable plastic film and will create two new jobs.
Crow Wing Recycling (Brainerd)
- Grant: $95,450 (total project: $127,450)
- Material: Copper and aluminum
Crow Wing Recycling will use the grant money to purchase equipment to recover more copper and aluminum. In the company's current process, small pieces of the metals are lost. The new equipment will separate and recycle an additional 1.5 tons per day of copper and aluminum, up to 360 tons per year.
Specialized Environmental Technologies, Inc. (Rosemount)
- Grant: $200,000 (total project: $530,000)
- Material: Organic
This project is designed to remove non-organic conatminants from organic material before it gets composted. Compost from food organics (as opposed to yard waste) has a lower value because of high contamination levels. The company estimates that the separator equipment funded by the grant will remove 99% of contamination from organic material dropped on their tipping floor.