Source: Birmingham News
Waste Pro USA Inc. plans to invest $3.2 million in an operation in Tarrant that could eventually have up to 125 workers as the company collects garbage contracts with communities throughout the metro area.
Longwood, Fla.-based Waste Pro has leased the 121,750-square-foot former Clean Earth Environmental building off Pinson Valley Parkway near Valley East Industrial Park.
The company is adding equipment to turn the facility into a full-scale recycling center. Garbage collected from residential and commercial users will be taken to the facility, where recyclable material will be separated before the rest of the garbage is sent off to a landfill.
“Traditional waste haulers have never really looked at farming the commodities,” said Bucky Fowler, regional vice president with Waste Pro. “They all own landfills. We feel like it’s the environmentally friendly thing to do, the right thing to do. The thing that can sustain us long-term is to take the waste stream, dig deeply into the waste stream, extract more commodities and send as little as possible to the landfills.”
Fowler said Waste Pro plans on competing for every residential garbage collection contract that comes up for bid in Jefferson and surrounding counties. That will put Waste Pro up against the likes of Waste Management, Allied Waste Services, Waste Away Inc., Arrow Disposal Service, Veolia and Advanced Disposal Services of Birmingham.
Fowler said Waste Pro’s bids will always include a curb-side recycling plan.
“We really want to expand curb-side recycling,” he said. “Most of that falls under a solid-waste bid, but we definitely want to bring curb-side recycling to every municipality. We’re trying to touch eight contiguous counties in the Birmingham area — Walker, Jefferson, Shelby, Tuscaloosa, St. Clair, Blount, Talladega and Calhoun.”
Even though this is Waste Pro’s first large-scale “material recovery facility” in Alabama, the company is no stranger to recycling operations here. In September 2008, Waste Pro acquired American Recycling of Alabama from American Recycling Group and took over its facility in Bessemer.
“We already do about 2,000 tons a month in recycling just in the Bessemer facility,” Fowler said. “We’re looking to increase that by more than 100 percent. We’re looking to be at 5,000 tons a month in the next 18 months.”
Fowler said Waste Pro aims to use the operation in Tarrant to expand the commercial recycling business it already has in the metro area.
“It will be full-scale waste hauling from commercial to residential and it will have full-scale public recycling,” he said. “From e-waste, plastics, batteries, everything that can be recycled, we’ll be able to take at the facility.”
The company has a similar operation in Atlanta whose customers include the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.
Waste Pro also handles tissue recycling for Kimberly-Clark Corp. and SCA Tissue North America, including its facility in Barton in Colbert County.
The Tarrant facility is set to begin operations May 15. Fowler said Waste Pro has already submitted a bid on its first area residential contract, set to be awarded in July. He declined to disclose the community because the bids are confidential.
The facility will open with around 50 workers this summer, but Fowler said he expects the number to grow quickly, along with Waste Pro’s customers.
“In Birmingham specifically, the facility will grow to between 100 to 125 jobs over the next three years,” he said.
Waste Pro is already eyeing other parts of the state as part of its expansion plans.
“It is our first facility like this in Alabama,” Fowler said. “We are looking very seriously in the Mobile and Huntsville areas.”
Waste Pro wants to expand beyond its current base of operations in Florida, Georgia, Mississippi and the Carolinas.
“We’re really dominant in Florida, and we’ve got a 10-state footprint we’re looking to expand in over the next five years,” Fowler said.
Jack Brown of Graham & Co. handled the lease deal on the Tarrant facility and its 22½ acres in unincorporated Jefferson County, with assistance from Jim Searcey of the Birmingham Business Alliance and Frank Humber, Jefferson County’s director of land development.
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