Recycling’s next frontier is as close as the nearest curb

Aug 21, 2008 | 12:13 PM |

Processing U.S. industrial scrap isn't an expanding field, so some scrapyards are looking elsewhere for growth.

Buying and processing electronic discards is one way to diversify. Another is to handle residential recyclables—materials collected at curbside in parallel with household waste. As local governments try to prolong the life spans of landfills, material recovery facilities are increasingly important, attracting both big guys and small.

Scrap behemoth Sims Metal Management has just about nailed down a long-term link with New York City a 20-year deal involving a dedicated facility under discussion since 2004.

On a much smaller scale, Friedman Recycling Co. of Phoenix, which handled Tucson's materials recovery for five years before being bumped by a rival, recently signed up for a 15-year stint doing the same thing for El Paso, Texas.

The Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries has set up a "curbside task force" to keep tabs on the developing market.

Sims Metal Management isn't quite ready to count its unhatched chickens in New York, where it signed on as a short-term contractor in 2003. The company declined to describe the status of its Big Apple plans, but the principles of a new facility and a 20-year relationship have been on the table since 2004. The lawyerly details can be tricky, particularly since some of the capital investment will be in equipment that could outlast the recycling contract.....

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