One man’s trash is another man’s cash


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Single Stream Recyclers co-owner John Hansen pitches in on the line to separate discarded household items into materials that are sold to manufacturers of future products.

photo by Linda Wiggins

Enough fossil fuel for numerous tractor-trailer trucks to make it to the moon and back. That’s just one of the environmental savings a new recycling plant will make just in time for Earth Day April 22.

Waste Management used to haul recyclables from each house it serves in Brevard County to a transfer station in West Melbourne, load them onto tractor-trailer trucks and send them all the way down south to a plant in Broward County’s Pembroke Pines. 

“A state-of-the-art recycling facility in Brevard County is very exciting,” Waste Management spokesperson Amy Boyson said of Single Stream Recyclers, built by two former Wisconsin trash processing company owners bought out by Waste Management who now bring much-needed centers online.

“This makes it simple for the customer; everything goes into the same cart. Then the processing facility converts mixed residential recyclables into individual commodities using technology and advanced equipment to include screens, air systems, magnets, eddy currents, optical scanners and balers.”

John Hansen owns the plant with high school buddy Eric Konik. Hansen further detailed the benefits.

“This facility was built to provide processing capacity in Florida that was lacking. It will eliminate a ton of truck traffic up and down the Interstate 95 corridor,” Hansen said. “It also adds 60-plus permanent jobs to the area.”

The tidy beige corrugated steel building at the end of Townsend Road behind the Cocoa Sam’s Club is unassuming. All operations take place inside. Once trucks arrive and are weighed, they dump their load inside the building and depart. A front-loader places the materials into a large box that feeds them onto a system of conveyer belts, where mechanics and technology separate glass, cans made of various metals, rigid plastic containers, cardboard and paper. 

Technicians assist the process along the way, grabbing out unwanted plastic bags that can damage equipment. The end result is a variety of products that are sorted, baled and set aside for end-users to purchase for their manufacturing needs, providing a revenue stream for materials that once took up valuable landfill space.

“We are beyond excited not only to eliminate the energy required to transport the materials but also to offer this service regionally and reduce energies further,” said Erin LeClair, spokesperson for Brevard County Solid Waste, for which Waste Management is a contract waste hauler. Hansen is a contractor to Waste Management.

Brevard County already exceeds by 4 percent the state requirement that half of all solid waste be recycled. The goal is to increase that rate to 75 percent in the coming years, Boyson said.

For more information on solid waste management, go to brevardcounty.us/solidwaste or call LeClair at 321-633-2042.