Recycling Works

The newsletter of DPPEA's Recycling Business Assistance Center

Vol. 2, No. 3, August 1996

Index this issue . . .

Converting Debris Into Organic Topsoil - Without Grinding?

By John Nelms, RBAC Marketing Development Specialist

To convert tree stumps, limbs, and other land-clearing debris waste into a highly marketable, rich, organic topsoil without any grinding sounds too good to be true. But that is exactly what B&B Organic Compost & Soils, Inc., of Durham has been able to accomplish. B&B's patented "Dry Method" requires no heat, turning, chemicals/ fertilizer, water, or grinding and produces no methane gas.

"Dry Method" Process

Bill Andrews, a vice president with B&B, invented the "Dry Method" process. Mr. Andrews, a mechanic by trade, spent approximately two decades perfecting this unique, yet simple process. First, debris is dumped into piles and is allowed to sit untouched for two to three years. At the point moisture-absorbing vegetation is observed to grow from the pile, the material is ready to be processed.

The material is then transferred into a sifting screen on which topsoil is separated from the partially degraded waste and moved to a separate pile. The remaining material is returned to piles for another round of the drying process. This procedure is carried out until there is no material left. Mr. Andrews says, "We do not waste anything, because that is money to us. Everything is run until there is nothing left but rocks, and we put that back onto the road."

Highly Organic Topsoil

To some, the "Dry Method" may sound like another form of composting, but experts support Andrews' assertion that it is a highly organic topsoil. There is a difference, says Dr. Robert Rubin, Extension Specialist and Associate Professor in Agricultural Engineering at North Carolina State University. "Based on my knowledge of soil and compost," Dr. Rubin says, "the material of the invention ("Dry Method") is significantly more similar to a soil product than to composts and is a unique product."

License Negotiations

B&B's business has steadily grown over the years. With gross revenues in 1995 of $300,000 to $400,000 and a solid track record, B&B has begun to license its soil development process. Progressive Soil Farms of Davidson County is the first purchaser of rights to produce topsoil using the "Dry Method." B&B is currently in negotiations with several other potential licensees and hopes to eventually have about 100 sites licensed. That sort of growth could lead to potential royalty income of $3 to $4 million.

Andrews says the key to B&B's success is simple. "The main thing is treat everybody like you would want to be treated. You want to treat your customer absolutely right."

Construction Waste: An Economic Opportunity

By Bobbi Tousey, RBAC Manager

In 1995, the NC Office of Waste Reduction produced a report entitled Assessment of the Recycling Industry and Recycling Materials in North Carolina - 1995 Update (the Study). In the Study, supply and demand data for 36 commodities including construction and demolition (C&D) wastes are compiled and analyzed. Although the Study does not focus directly on ways to reduce construction waste, it provides valuable information on economic opportunities of C&D recovery.

Construction and demolition wastes
have significant recovery and reuse potential.

Little information exists on the amount of C&D waste generated in North Carolina each year. For the purposes of the Study, the supply of C&D waste was assumed to be the amount of C&D material disposed in North Carolina landfills, i.e., approximately 7.8 percent of the total waste stream or about 721,000 tons per year. This amount is smaller than the 20 percent commonly cited. Some possible reasons suggested for the discrepancy are that C&D waste is being transported out of thestate goes to facilities without scales, or is discarded illegally. Not surprisingly, over 65 percent of C&D waste is generated by the central area of the state with the remainder spread evenly over the other regions.

C&D Waste Stream

At 30 percent, wood makes up the largest component of C&D waste, while asphalt shingles make up 23 percent. Sheetrock comprises 18 percent of the waste stream, followed by asphalt (5 percent), brick (3 percent), and "other" materials (20 percent). The following examples illustrate the potential of recovery and reuse of building wastes as some C&D wastes are increasingly collected and reused.

Wood scraps are recovered from building or central processing sites by several North Carolina businesses and resold. Small pieces of wood are collected, chipped, and shredded for a variety of markets including pulp, mulch, compost, and composites. This reuse represents a savings for builders who do not have to pay to have the material hauled away and those looking for alternatives to increasingly expensive building materials.

In the past, used asphalt shingles have had few markets. The Study indicates that contractors are willing to recycle shingle wastes to reduce landfill costs. Recently, the RBAC funded a test project designed to determine if asphalt shingles can be added cost effectively to paving material for use by the NC Department of Transportation (NC DOT). If the tests are satisfactory, NC DOT could use most of the used shingles currently discarded in the state.

Gypsum wallboard is comprised primarily of gypsum (calcium sulfate) and a paper backing. After the paper is separated, it can be recycled for use in other paper products. Gypsum has been used successfully as a soil amendment, acting much like limestone. In addition, in its capability to absorb odors and liquids, gypsum offers promising product development potential as kitty litter and oil absorbent. RBAC has contracted with the NCSU Department of Animal and Poultry Waste Management Center to investigate the feasibility of using gypsum as part of a dry bed system in swine houses. If tests are positive, commercial trials will be undertaken.

Companies are discovering that C&D wastes are valuable commodities that should not be discarded but reused or remanufactured into new products. In the next five years, mounds of debris at construction sites may disappear - to the benefit of builders, manufacturers, and the environment.

RBAC Receives Second EPA Grant

By Bobbi Tousey, RBAC Manager

In support of the quality and dimension of the Recycling Business Assistance Center's (RBAC's) work with the North Carolina's recycling industry, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently awarded RBAC a second grant. The first grant in 1994 funded establishment of the RBAC. A component of EPA's Jobs-Through-Recycling Initiative, the 1996 award will enable the Center to build and expand the work already underway.

Feedstock Conversion Project

One task under the original grant was to demonstrate the process by which an existing North Carolina company can convert from virgin feedstock to recycled materials as process input. This demonstration project is underway and yielding significant results. Through preliminary research, RBAC estimates that more than 1,000 other NC companies could have similar potential for feedstock conversion.

Target Manufacturing Base

A logical next step is to systematically target this large segment of the manufacturing base and focus resources on widespread conversion of the feedstock used by those industries. Tasks outlined in the 1996 grant proposal initiate that process. RBAC will target major industrial sectors in North Carolina and guide selected industries through the feedstock conversion process.

RBAC Guidance

RBAC's guidance to those industries will combine direct technical, financial, and follow-up assistance; technology development; and educational seminars. This project will expand and further institutionalize the unique synergy between the economic development and the environmental communities in North Carolina by promoting recycling opportunities.

Project Goals

Construction Products From Recycled Materials

By Bobbi Tousey, RBAC Manager

As the price of virgin goods rises, materials and products made out of recycled substances become increasingly cost efficient. By using recycled materials, builders can keep costs down while helping the environment and appealing to consumers. Examples of building products with recycled content or environmentally favorable attributes now available are described below.

Recycled Wood Products

With costs of virgin timber increasing, products made out of recycled wood have also become much more cost efficient.

While some recycled wood or wood-substitute products have been in the marketplace for years, a variety of lesser-known products is beginning to appear.

Request for Proposals: Pollution Prevention Challenge Grants

DPPEA is soliciting proposals for its Pollution Prevention Challenge Grant program. Matching grants up to $15,000 ($20,000 for businesses having under 100 employees) are available for projects that demonstrate an innovative pollution prevention technology or recycled feedstocks in place of virgin feedstocks. The deadline for proposals is August 31, 1996. See the enclosed flyer for information on submitting a proposal and a Challenge Grant project summary form. For more information, call David Williams at (919) 715-6527.

"Building in Balance: Environmental and Economic Solutions"

Second Annual SOutheastern Green Building Conference & Exhibition

Sponsored by the North Carolina Energy Division and the North Carolina Recycling Association

The North Carolina Green Building Council is hosting the Second Annual Southeastern Building Conference & Exhibition on October 7-9, 1996, at the Wilmington Hilton in Wilmington, N.C. The event will unite architects, buiulders, engineers, realtors, contractors, government officials, and homeowners across the Southeast to learn the latest in green building design, construction, and technology.

For registration information, contact the North Carolina Recycling Association (NCRA) at (919) 851-8444, FAX (919) 851-6009, or write to NCRA at 7330 Chapel Hill Road, Suite 207, Raleigh, NC 27607.

Self-Help and RBAC Partnership: The North Carolina Recycling Finance Project

By Matt Ewadinger, RBAC Market Development Specialist

The North Carolina Recycling Business Study (see Recycling Works,August 1995), recommends that small business financing programs be marketed to recycling companies and that lenders and investors become better educated about recycling businesses. The Study also points out that limited access to capital and cash flow problems are the most frequently cited obstacles to business growth for all recycling companies except scrap metal dealers.

NCFRP Developed

To address these recommendations and obstacles to business growth, Self-Help, North Carolina's community development banking group, and RBAC have developed a partnership to implement the North Carolina Recycling Finance Project (NCRFP). "Over the next 12 months, Self-Help will undertake a range of activities directed to building our capacity to serve the recycling industry and increase the capital available to firms in that industry," said Robert Schall, President of Self-Help Ventures Fund. Designed to foster capital access for recycling companies, the NCRFP has five major objectives.

  • Objective 1: Market Self-Help to the Recycling Industry
Self-Help will embark on a marketing program designed to inform recycling businesses about the financing instruments that are available to them. The NCRFP Team plans to survey the industry, contact a large number of recycling businesses directly, make four major presentations to recycling firms and organizations, and prepare promotional materials specifically targeted to the recycling industry.
  • Objective 2: Train Self-Help's Loan Officers
"Self-Help is known for its ability to adapt financing programs to the needs of businesses. In order to provide this value-added service to recycling companies and entrepreneurs, our loan officers must have a better understanding of the technical aspects of the industry," said Schall. With this in mind, the Project Team will train Self-Help's loan officers and administrative staff on technological, market, and structural specifics of the different sectors of the recycling industry.
  • Objective 3: Develop Financial Performance Information
The Project Team will develop a database of financial performance information for firms in the recycling industry. Banks and other financial intermediaries rely on this kind of information to make informed lending decisions. The information will be retrieved from a broad range of specialized sources relevant to the recycling industry.
  • Objective 4: Approve $1 Million in Loans to Recycling Businesses
Self-Help pledges to review and approve at least $1 million in loans to new and expanding recycling businesses as part of this Project. New capital of $1 million, a significant first effort to meet the capital needs of this growing industry, will give Self-Help a solid foundation for future lending in this industry.
  • Objective 5: Develop Recommendations for Creation of a Specialized Loan Program
Based on its experience and the experience to be gained as a result of the Project, Self-Help will make recommendations to RBAC on the creation of a specialized loan program targeted to recycling businesses. The recommendations will identify the optimum structure to manage such a fund and potential private and public sources of capital.

Use Existing Resources

The Project Team will make use of existing and available resources such as the Small Business and Technology Development Center and two agencies of the NC Department of Commerce, the Finance Center and the Business/Industry Development Division. Of strategic importance are cooperative efforts by Self-Help and RBAC to ensure that firms make maximum use of the technical, marketing, and business development assistance available from this program.

Note: For more information on the North Carolina Recycling Finance Project, contact Matt Ewadinger of RBAC at (919) 715-6504 or Robert Schall of Self-Help Ventures Fund at (919) 956-4400.

Polymers Extension Program Educational Events

The Polymers Extension Program (PEP), a plastics research facility at North Carolina State University in Charlotte, provides in-plant engineering outreach assistance, education, training, process and product development, and engineering reference services to North Carolina companies that manufacture products from plastics and rubbers for a variety of applications. PEP offers classroom and hands-on courses that cover basic technical and manufacturing subjects for the plastics industry.

PEP will present two opportunities this fall for businesses to learn more about plastics. Recycling and recyclability will receive special emphasis.

Design of Plastic Parts Course

This comprehensive course to be held at the PEP facility in Charlotte will introduce the principles of plastic part design to those involved in the management and execution of product development programs. Particular attention will be given to design, selection of materials, and assembly techniques for the ease of product recycling. The following topics will be covered:

For more information, contact PEP at 704-547-3972.

Dickinson Named New Commerce Finance Director

RALEIGH — State Commerce Secretary Dave Phillips has named veteran banking and finance officer Stewart Dickinson the new director of the Commerce Finance Center. Mr. Dickinson's appointment became effective May 6.

Dickinson, the senior vice president and chief loan officer of the Connecticut Development Authority, will replace Bruce Strickland who retired last month after 30 years of service to the state.

"With Stewart's broad experience in economic development finance, we'll see more benefits in the programs we provide to new and existing industry," Phillips said. "I am confident that Stewart will continue the tradition of excellence Bruce has started."

North Carolina Market Prices for Recyclables






Aluminum Cans, lb loose



$0.51 lb/baled

Steel Cans, gross ton baled



$62 ton


PETE, lb baled




HDPE, lb baled





Newsprint, ton baled




Corrugated, ton baled




Office, ton baled




Magazines, ton baled




Mixed, ton baled





Clear, ton crushed




Brown, ton crushed




Green, ton crushed




*Denotes that magazines are included with mixed paper.
** Denotes that magazines are included with newsprint.

Note: The prices listed above are compiled by the RBAC and are for reference only. These prices are not firm quotes. RBAC obtained pricing information from buyers within each category and developed a pricing range.

The North Carolina Division of Pollution Prevention and Environmental Assistance provides free, non-regulatory technical assistance and training to eliminate, reduce, or recycle wastes before they become pollutants or require disposal. For additional information about issues in this document or to discuss any of your waste reduction concerns, contact DPPEA at (919) 715-6500 or 800-763-0136 or e-mail.