By M.L. Dehm SCBJ Freelance Writer
SNOHOMISH — This recycling business is not about household bottles and newspapers — it’s something a lot bigger. That’s the message that the team at United Recycling and Container in Snohomish would like to get out to the public.
The 15-year-old firm handles a wide range of construction debris and other materials that have traditionally gone into landfills. United Recycling customers and contractors deliver debris or arrange for a large Dumpster to be placed at their site and collected at a later date.
Although the facility is the largest of its kind in Snohomish County, there are still many businesses that don’t understand what United Recycling offers.
“We’ve been under the radar,” said outside sales consultant Randy Hart.
The bulk of what United Recycling processes is construction materials. This includes everything from the bits of wood, concrete, appliances and plumbing fixtures typical of a home renovation project to the discarded pallets, masonry materials, plastic sheeting and rubble found on a large commercial site.
Hart said they’ll take everything plus the kitchen sink and it doesn’t matter whether that sink is metal or porcelain — they accept both.
Company figures show a recycle rate of 93.7 percent from materials processed in the month of August — materials of the sort that many consumers and businesses still send to landfills, even though United Recycling’s service costs less.
Perhaps of highest value to local businesses is the ability to earn site recycling credits on a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) or Built Green job. Other credits may be earned through the use of recycled commodities such as crushed concrete United Recycling sells.
To make recycling even easier, materials that are dropped off or put in the hired United Recycling Dumpsters do not need to be source-separated. The commingled materials are sorted by the company during processing.
United Recycling doesn’t accept hazardous materials such as asbestos, treated wood or solvents. It also doesn’t accept household garbage, tires or grass clippings. But they will accept almost anything else, including most organic debris.
In fact, the company started in organic debris recycling. Originally known as Top Soils Inc., the business expanded to meet a growing need for construction material recycling in the area.
United Recycling still works with organic castoffs that create mountains of black bark in the topsoil yard as tree stumps, branches and scrap lumber are ground up and processed into valuable landscape material.
Other parts of the property are where cinder blocks, concrete, bricks and pavers find new life as ground-up backfill, road base and gravel. The jack-hammered remains of one old driveway can become the base of a new driveway.
Plastics of all kinds are baled and shipped to plastic remanufacturers. Metal is sorted and shipped and cardboard is baled for reprocessing.
Then there are the less obviously recyclable materials. Old drywall, for example, can be processed into new drywall. Styrofoam packing, sand, slag and many other materials have industrial uses and reuses.
“The amount of nonrecyclable items is shrinking more and more every year,” Hart said.
Demand for recycled materials is growing as a result of the rising cost of raw materials. Landfill mining is a reality in other parts of the world, said United Recycling team member Bruce Clark.
Sending old materials for recycling is not only better for the environment than sending it to a landfill, it gets those resources back into the hands of manufacturers and saves natural resources.
It also costs less. The minimum fee to dump a mixed load of recyclables at United Recycling is $15 by cash or check. No load is too big or too small. Homeowners are as welcome to use the service as companies and contractors.
On the Web
To learn more about the types of materials accepted by United Recycling or costs to have a recycle container dropped at your site, go to www.unitedrecyclingco.com. United Recycling is located at 18827 Yew Way, Snohomish.