Local company puts scraps back in circulation

CHICAGO The Environmental Protection Agency estimates about 135 million tons of debris are generated annually from the construction industry. Most of it ends up in landfills.

Allied Waste's new recycling facility specializes in handling construction and demolition waste. It has only been open for a short time and already developers are singing its praises.

The process starts with construction projects such as a gut renovation. Such a big job requires lots of materials, but also creates quite a bit of waste. Most of it is concrete, bricks, metal and drywall.

In effort to meet certain green building standards, a minimum amount of the project's waste must be recycled. Developer Jeff Jozwiak, a principal at Norcon Inc., says it can be a time-consuming process.

"In a lot of towns and municipalities around the country, you actually have to have three, four refuse containers on-site on your project and you have to sort the materials yourself... Here in Chicago, thanks to progressive companies like Allied, we can dump everything in one box," said Jozwiak.

Allied Waste's new one-of-a kind facility accepts mixed, unsorted debris -- up to 15-hundred tons per day. It uses automation -- like a machine that washes incoming wood and separates it from other foreign particles -- as well as manual labor to pick out non-recyclable materials by hand.

Robert Kalebich, general manager at Allied Waste explained, "The city put in an ordinance trying to divert 25% (of waste) from a landfill and recently, a year-and-a-half ago, they went to 50%. Really we built the facility to help our customers meet that goal."

This facility is now said to beat the city's standard -- recovering 80 to 90% of re-usable materials. When the process is complete, there is wood that will be burned for energy, as well as metal and cardboard that will be sold to companies that use the materials in their businesses.

Kalebich said, "This is a state-of-the-art facility and it helps us help our customers and that's the key and also help the city be a greener city."

Allied Waste's construction and demolition recycling center is located on the southwest side just two miles from downtown at 2200 S. Laflin in Chicago. It is open to the public.



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