Steamboat Springs — Twin Enviro Services founder Les Liman confirmed this week that his company has broken ground on a new 6,000-square-foot materials recovery facility that has the potential to reduce the carbon footprint of single-stream recyclables being picked up curbside in Steamboat Springs and elsewhere in Northwest Colorado.
“When you consider the carbon issue, I think we’re doing the right thing,” Liman said. “It’s a tremendous advantage for the community. We’re sending full truckloads to end users, so it doesn’t have to be handled twice.”
The facility, where recyclables will be sorted before shipping, will be available to all commercial trash haulers in Northwest Colorado.
Steamboat Today reported in late January that recyclables picked up at curbside in Steamboat Springs are shipped to one of two MRFs in Denver before moving on to end users of the materials.
Liman intends for his employees to do the sorting on an innovative circular line at the new MRF in Milner, then contract to have empty trucks, which have already delivered shipments here, to backhaul the recyclables to companies who find new uses for them.
For example, Twin Enviro’s President of Twin Landfill Corp. of Fremont County Gary Fuselier said newsprint and chip board from food cartons such as cereal boxes will go to Applegate Insulation, just a few miles from Twin Enviro’s operations near Canon City. Aluminum and steel cans will go to a factory in Pueblo, and corrugated cardboard will go to a plant north of Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Twin Enviro’s new MRF, already open in Fremont County, benefitted from a $250,000 grant from the Colorado Department of Health and Environment’s Recycling Resources Economic Opportunity Fund. Liman’s daughter, McKenzie Liman, wrote the grant application.
And the new MRF in Milner will receive a similar grant of $289,283 to cover the cost of equipment at the new facility.
Twin Enviro will match the grant with $626,841, including $450,000 for the building and an estimated $198,000 in labor to get the MRF up to speed.
Liman’s company is also in the trash hauling business. But he is quick to acknowledge he would like to have participation at the MRF from some of his largest customers who are also his competitors in the trash hauling business.
“We’d love for our Steamboat customers and (recyclables) generators to support us,” he said, adding: “We’d like, and expect to have more participation.”
Steve Weinland, owner of Aces High Services in Steamboat, is one of those competing customers. He supports the idea of having a MRF here and wrote a letter of support for the grant. However, his decision about whether to suspend his own trucking of recyclables to Alpine Waste, an MRF in Denver, will depend upon the fees Twin Enviro charges in Milner.
“It makes economic sense to me, and I’m not crazy about driving trucks to Denver,” Weinland said. “If he will charge me somewhere close to what it costs me to take it to Denver, I’d rather take it to him. If there’s a big price difference, I’ll continue to take it to Denver.”
The dominant trash hauler here, and consequently, the biggest handler of single-stream recyclables, is Waste Management. The company bales the materials at its yard in Steamboat and trucks them 160 miles to its own MRF in Denver. Waste Management told Steamboat Today it collected and baled 3,300 tons of recyclables in Steamboat in 2013. But the economics of recycling are daunting, even without the expense of hauling materials to Denver from a remote location such as Steamboat.
Jennifer N. Rivera, communications manager for Waste Management in this area, said her company is interested in learning more about the facility being built outside Milner.
“Waste Management is pleased to see additional options for full processing of single stream recyclables,” she said. “We will explore the opportunity to utilize the new MRF when it becomes operational.”
Building the MRF
Liman said concrete footers for the new steel building that will house the MRF were poured in advance of this week’s snowstorm, raising the possibility it will be making test runs by late March. Steamboat resident Jeniere Yeats, who manages the Milner Mall (landfill), has been training at the Fremont County site.
Liman is realistic about the economic potential of the MRF at Milner.
“It would be terrific to cover our direct operating costs,” he said. “That would be a goal, but I’m not optimistic that’s going to happen any time soon. It’s going to take years of transition.”
To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205, email tross@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ThomasSRoss1