Friday, November 17, 2017
Business

Company converts green waste into useful products

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BROOKSVILLE — "Green waste" sounds like an oxymoron. But it exists in the wake of tree fellers, landscapers, excavators, even do-it-yourself homeowners. And a regional company that converts such waste into useful components is growing in Hernando County.

A grand-opening banner flutters in the breeze along State Road 50 east of Brooksville at a satellite yard of Consolidated Resource Recovery, a company with headquarters in Sarasota and operating in nearly a dozen Central Florida counties.

With 65 employees regionally, the company takes in and processes waste from land clearing and yard work, said Doug Halward, who purchased the company with Jim Darby in 1995. The duo has amassed a fleet of mobile tub grinders that turn tree trunks, branches and roots into chips that are sold to power plants and mulch that is sold to landscaping supply companies. Screening captures a dirt mixture that is composted and bagged for the gardening marketplace.

The Brooksville site, originally opened two years ago, Halward said, had closed for several months for lack of intake, but reopened in August. In July, the company opened a yard with a Spring Hill address on Hays Road in Pasco County.

"We like to open in areas that we feel have some potential," Halward said, adding, "We hope Hernando County continues to grow."

Robert Eaton, who has operated the Brooksville site since its reopening, said, "Not a day goes by that I don't get something in. Why bury it," he asked rhetorically, "when you could put it to use? Recycling — that's part of living in society today."

While municipally contracted trash collection in Hernando County includes pickup of yard waste that goes to the county landfill, removal of entire trees generally is handled by a tree service or a construction company that has to get rid of the bulkier waste. Consolidated Resource Recovery meets that need.

Each yard serves as an intake site, where a grinder is brought in as needed to chop the raw product before it is hauled to the Sarasota-Bradenton facility for separation and sale.

At the Brooksville yard, customers pay $2 a cubic yard for product brought in for processing.

"That's cheap," said Eaton. "A lot of companies charge by the ton," a more costly operation because those sites must include the costs of a scale house, he explained.

With customers paying Consolidated to take their product, then the company selling the processed product, Halward concedes, "In theory, it should be an easy moneymaker. But there are challenges. You have to keep the equipment running, deal with trucking issues, rain. On and on you can go."

Added Eaton, at the intake yard: "You have to truck the tub grinder in on a low-boy. It's quite an expense just to do that."

In addition to providing an outlet for tree and landscape services as well as individuals, Consolidated processes green waste for 11 municipalities, including the counties of Hernando, Pasco, Hillsborough and Pinellas.

It sells its product to companies in Hernando, Pasco, Hillsborough, Polk, Hardee, Manatee, Sumter and Lee counties.

While Consolidated is a for-profit firm, Eaton emphasized, "It's recovering resources that would be burned and causing pollution or dumped somewhere to deteriorate into nothing."

Contact Beth Gray at graybethn@earthlink.net.

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