It seemed counterintuitive: To recycle its waste, Dane County would send a daily fleet of semi-trucks laden with construction byproducts to a facility in Appleton, two hours north. The cost? Five hundred fifty tons of carbon emissions each year and hundreds of thousands in taxpayer dollars, essentially being trucked up north.
The county’s new Construction and Demolition Recycling Facility, local and reliant on renewable energy, is set to change that – creating jobs and saving money in the process.
“This new facility will extend the life of our landfill, recycle more materials, save millions for taxpayers and create jobs,” Dane County Executive Joe Parisi said in a press release. “This facility will be run on waste heat from our landfill and continues our efforts to increase our renewable energy for all of our county facilities.”
Construction is a messy business that uses more materials by weight than any other industry in the U.S., according to the Environmental Protection Agency, and a single 2,000-square-foot home can produce 8,000 pounds of waste.
Left unchecked, this waste can easily overflow landfills and be expensive to manage. Most construction materials, including concrete, cardboard, wood and metal, can be recycled for a profit.
With an initial cost of $5.2 million, the new facility will save Dane County $600,000 annually and initially create 19 permanent jobs, set to double in the coming months. This is in addition to extending the usable life of the county landfill and cutting greenhouse gas emissions.
The facility will be able to recycle 70 percent of all the materials it receives, sparing 28,000 tons of recyclables from the landfill annually, a figure projected to grow to 52,500 tons in the future.
“This is a win for taxpayers and a win for our environment. Dane County will continue to be a leader in our efforts to protect our environment,” Parisi said in the release.