Four recycling companies are recipients of the first round of MPCA Recycling Market Development grants, approved by the Minnesota Legislature in 2019. With this funding, these businesses in Greater Minnesota have launched projects designed to help increase the value of raw materials developed from recycling goods and create jobs across the state.
Employment Enterprises, Inc. (Little Falls)
- Project: Research and development to convert glass to sandblast material
- Grant: $51,945 (total project: $69,164)
- Material: Glass
This project will convert 71 tons of glass to marketable sandblast grit in multiple sizes to meet the needs of customers. Once the glass collection can be managed, Employment Enterprises will partner with other haulers in Morrison and Todd Counties to collect their glass. At completion, the project will use 500 tons of glass per year and create 20 or more new jobs for staff with disabilities.
Glass has had a negative value for a number years — it costs $10-25/ton to have glass recycled in the Twin Cities. This project allows for a glass recycling option in northern Minnesota that will allow collectors to save money on transportation costs and potentially make recycling glass a winning proposition.
Grant money will fund equipment fabrication and purchase, packaging containers, and safety equipment.
Greenforest Recycling, LLC (Brainerd)
- Project: Paper-sorting system
- Grant: $149,763 (total project: $199,685)
- Material: Mixed paper
This project will take mixed/newspaper from material recovery facilities (MRFs) that has in the past been landfilled or sold for low cost, and turn it into a more coveted paper grade. The goal is to feed this paper to Minnesota companies that have a higher demand for cleaner paper grades. The start-up goals are 700-1,000 tons/mo., increasing to 2,300-3,000 tons/mo. within a year. The equipment purchased with this grant will pre-clean the material before it hits the polishing screens. Estimated jobs created for this project is eight staff.
Grant money will fund the purchase of processing equipment.
Northfield Curbside Compost Cooperative (Northfield)
- Project: Expanding organic waste collection, processing and availability in Rice County
- Grant: $104,125 (total project: $130,156)
- Material: Organics (food waste)
This project will double the volume of collected compostable material from households in Northfield to a total of 1,100 cu. yd. of green (food) waste by doubling the number of subscribers. This food waste would typically go to a landfill. Collection is available to single-family housing as well as apartment dwellings, not typically included in collection programs. The cooperative also considers low-income residents and provides affordable pricing to make the service more accessible. Curbside Compost Cooperative will build a local processing site to compost waste material into a finished product totaling a volume of 1,600 cu. yd. per year. This product will be given and sold to an expanding customer base of gardeners, farmers, landscapers, and road construction projects. Estimated job creation is one staff person.
Grant money will fund the purchase of equipment for collection and processing and marketing/community education on organics.
P.E.C.E. Recycling, LLC (Cosmos)
- Project: Increasing recycling of challenging materials in Minnesota - Discarded vinyl tape into vinyl hose
- Grant: $94,165 (total project: $159,415)
- Material: Vinyl film, cardboard cores, polypropylene drums
The project will purchase equipment to expand its operations to recycle vinyl tape, which will create 200 jobs with 176 of those for people with special needs at six locations in Minnesota. Recycled vinyl film (tape) will be used for manufacturing vinyl hose; the cardboard cores will be shredded for livestock bedding in dairy barns. Reclaimed polypropylene drums used for transporting will be recycled into granulated plastics, as a co-benefit material to this project. A total of 1.35 million lbs. of plastic will be diverted from landfills and recycled into higher-value materials for making new products. This includes a minimum of 1.2 million lbs. of nuisance plastic of vinyl film (tape) that has previously been discarded. The project will also increase the recycling of 150,000 lbs. of polypropylene drums and 400,000 lbs. of cardboard cores that are also discarded with the nuisance vinyl film.
Grant money used for purchase and installation of plastic grinder, de-taping machines, a cardboard baler, and a forklift.