City industrial recycling initiatives a link in closing the loop

By Sheila A. Marshall

Managing Editor

 

The city of Griffin Board of Commissioners recently approved the approximately $16,000 purchase of a compactor that will be installed at the Caterpillar Corporation in Spalding County.

According to Griffin Central Services Director Phill Francis, the purchase and installation is not the first at the local business.

“Actually, this is not the first we’ve purchased because they’re (Caterpillar) is constantly growing and diversifying their recycling plan,” Francis said.

This recycling plan has become a very positive and mutually-beneficial partnership between the city of Griffin and the international corporation, and this most recent addition will serve to enhance that, Francis said.

“It’s a productivity enhancement tool. It will allow Caterpillar to compress its OCC (old corrugated cardboard) rather than throwing it loosely into an open-top roll-off container,” he said. “Rather than having to have multiple trips out there, they’ll be able to judge by capacity when to schedule a haul. Instead of making three trips a week, we may make one trip every two weeks. That saves fuel costs for us because we won’t be going to pick up only partially-full containers.”

Once picked up by the city’s Solid Waste Department, the OCC is transported to Pratt Industries in Conyers, where it is remade into new cardboard boxes.

“In the industry, that’s known as closing the loop,” Francis said. “It’s a sustainability issue that all industries are addressing.”

The cost of the compactor – $16,000 – was borne by the city of Griffin, but Francis said that is not atypical among departments that function as free enterprises.

Furthermore, he said the expenditure will be recouped quickly, due to the proceeds the city receives from the cardboard recycling.

“The cardboard market varies; it’s like a commodity,” he said. “I watch the market and try to sell at the height of projection each month.”

Francis said projections at this time, based on current trends, a recycling rate of approximately 30 tons monthly and revenue of roughly $100 per ton indicates the $16,000 investment will soon generate a profit.

“We will be seeing a return on the investment in about six months,” he said. “It also makes fiscal sense to businesses and industries to compact and recycle rather than pay hauling and disposal fees, which makes the city of Griffin more attractive to business and industry.”

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