By PETER H. MILLIKEN
A local assembly line sorts and bales recyclable materials collected from Northeast Ohio recycling bins and sends them to processors that will give them a new life.
Associated Paper Stock Inc., 11510 South Ave. Ext., established a materials recovery facility, supplementing its own investment of more than
$1 million with a $250,000 grant it received in 2006 from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
The MRF is divided into two streams — one for recycled paper, including newspaper, magazines and cardboard; and the other for nonpaper items, including metal food and beverage cans, glass bottles and plastic containers.
“It’s very much of a state-of-the-art line that they have. They’ve created jobs, which is great for the economy,” said Jim Petuch, director of the Mahoning County recycling division. The North Lima company has 56 employees.
“Anything that’s staying out of a landfill is not getting burned or not getting buried; it’s getting turned back into some kind of end use,” said Mike E. Aey Jr., director of purchasing and marketing of recyclable materials for the North Lima company.
“Recycling facilities, whether they’re ours or anybody else’s across the nation, need to be utilized. You need to keep as much material out of the landfill as you can,” he said.
“We try to keep as much of our recycled material [as possible] going to Ohio end-users,” he added. “We do our best to keep it in Ohio first. Second, we do our best to keep it in the United States.”
Half or more of the cardboard processed by AP goes to Massillon or Coshocton paper mills, Aey said. “Our newspaper goes to paper mills in Toronto, Ohio. As much plastic as possible stays in Ohio,” he said. All metals AP processes stay in the state, he added.
Nonpaper items arriving at the MRF enter a bag-breaker, which breaks apart the plastic bags, in which the cans, glass bottles and plastic containers are often encased.
After that, the recyclables are placed on an elevated conveyor belt, where workers along the sorting line pick up recyclables and drop them into the appropriate bins, with only nonrecyclable garbage dropping off the end of the conveyor belt into a landfill-bound trash receptacle.
The recyclables are collected from each bin, compacted into bales weighing between 1,100 and 2,000 pounds at the MRF, and sent to processing centers, where they are given a new use.
Cans are sold to a Columbus company that melts aluminum cans to be turned back into new cans and melts down steel and tin cans to make steel coil.
The many types of plastics have a variety of reuses, including new plastic bottles and lids, flower pots, toys, strapping and the polyester fiber used to make carpet, clothing and furniture. Plastic grocery bags become benches and lumber decking.
The newspaper passing through AP is made by the Toronto, Ohio, processor into rolls from which pizza boxes are made. Office paper goes to a Middletown, Ohio, processor, to be recycled into more office paper.
The glass bottles go to a Cleveland company that grinds the glass into the pellets contained in roof shingles. Glass can also be melted down and blown into new glass products, Aey said.
Aluminum-can recycling is the most profitable category, but “glass is a big money loser” for recyclers, Aey said. “The paper market fluctuates drastically.”
AP was founded in 1974 by its president, Thomas Yanko of Poland, as a cardboard recycler, and it remains active in that business.
Associated Paper Stock is one of the largest recyclers of corrugated cardboard in the Midwest, collecting large amounts of empty cardboard boxes from major Ohio retail stores and sending the baled cardboard to mills to be turned into new cardboard boxes.
Aside from its regular assembly line operation, AP also shreds office paper and grinds plastic into pellets for manufacture into other plastic items.
AP also collects broken or unwanted electronic items and sends them to a processor in Lorain, which deconstructs them for recycling of their components.