Recycling Works Newsletter Spring 2016

RBAC's quarterly newsletter discusses current topics of interest to recycling businesses, including information on financing opportunities, commodity markets and new technologies.

In the Spring 2016 Recycling Works issue:

RBAC Celebrates Matt Ewadinger's 23 Years of Service


Twenty-three years can go by in the blink of eye, sometimes obscuring the individual events and experiences that make up the evolution of a productive career and long friendship. With our colleague Matt Ewadinger retiring from his dedicated years of service, it gives us an opportunity to reflect on his many contributions.

When the Recycling Business Assistance Center was founded in 1993 and Matt came on board as a member of the RBAC team, the goal was to create markets in the purest sense of the term. Like many states at the dawn of mass recycling, North Carolina needed access to manufacturers and end-users of the materials now busily being collected. The task was to find and, in some cases, to grow end-users from scratch, and then develop ways to connect the disparate collection and processing efforts to those end-users. 

In that formative stage, Matt played a critical role in setting North Carolina on a smart path, leading an innovative Feedstock Conversion project and documenting the ready supply of commodities available to recycled content manufacturers. Matt helped establish the early sense that North Carolina was an open and welcoming place for recyclers of all kinds, and especially for entrepreneurs whose business dreams would create critically needed infrastructure and material demand.

But Matt also had the wisdom to know that the state environmental department could not do the job alone and that we needed the help of business partners to accelerate the evolution of the recycling economy. To succeed, recycling companies needed business expertise, access to capital, and the support of the state’s economic development agencies. As such, Matt helped form the relationships that remain the cornerstone of market development efforts in North Carolina, including close collaboration with the N.C. Department of Commerce. He also helped foster innovative programs like SBTDC training and the Self Help Credit Union recycling revolving loan fund that got many fledgling recyclers on the right track. 

In short, Matt understood that if you offer a range of resources and services tailored to the needs of recycling companies, including state recycling business grants, it would not only quicken the development of recycling markets but also help create synergies between the collection, processing and manufacturing parts of the recycling economy.  To this day, other states still call North Carolina to ask how the state implemented this range of tools and programs that proved to be so productive and consequential.

Telling the story of a successful process can reinforce and amplify that process, helping success build on success. With a state recycling economy clearly light years from where it started, Matt led his team in producing two documents in 2005 and 2006 that demonstrated the remarkable expansion of recycling business in North Carolina. The two publications, along with the Recycling Works newsletter, were really almost a celebration of the early efforts to develop recycling markets. Who would have known that only a decade or so after a focused effort on demand that North Carolina’s next challenge would be to create a supply of materials to feed the growing appetite for recycled commodities? In answering that challenge, Matt’s RBAC team was able to build and then show the diverse strength of the recycling economy, populated by businesses large and small, recycling an amazing array of different commodities. 

Plastics recycling is a big part of North Carolina’s recycling success but plastics is complicated and often requires highly technical expertise. Fortunately, Charlotte has one of the premier plastics research groups in the nation, the Polymers Center for Excellence. Matt worked to build bridges with PCE early on, harnessing the know-how of staff in the organization to address plastics issues and help North Carolina plastics recyclers. 

This relationship proved particularly valuable on the issue of carpet recycling, another area in which Matt made many valuable contributions. As one of just two state members working with the Carpet America Recovery Effort, Matt helped to guide the development of CARE’s national programs to recycle carpet, working also to make sure CARE’s efforts directly benefited the state’s carpet recyclers. Matt’s hands-on experience in supporting carpet recycling entrepreneurs gave CARE practical insights into how to grow carpet recycling across the country.

But Matt would be the last person to claim credit himself, which speaks to his devotion to his RBAC team and his work to build that team. Matt effectively created an atmosphere of camaraderie, always carrying his share of the burden, guiding tasks and decision-making with common sense, and acting not so much as a “boss” of his team but as a collaborator genuinely interested in the individual success of each team member. And we could always rely on Matt’s humor to put things into proper perspective, with his knack for sprinkling in Monty Python and Woody Allen quotes at just the right times, especially in reference to the inanity of bureaucracy.

So, we thank Matt for all he has given to North Carolina, for all he has given to his recycling clients, and for all he has given to us. He is well-deserving of many years of a happy retirement, knowing his legacy of work has made our state a better place.

2016 RBAC Grant Awards Spur Private Investment

State recycling business grants awarded this spring are expected to generate approximately 75 jobs, more than $1.7 million in new, private business investments and a reduction in the state’s dependence on landfill disposal.

NC DEQ’s Recycling Business Assistance Center announced that 24 companies that collect, process and manufacture new products with recycled materials will receive more than $640,000 in funds this fiscal year. Examples of projects include:

  • Five material recovery facilities – American Recycling of WNC (Buncombe), Benfield Sanitation (Iredell), Foothills Sanitation (Wilkes), Sonoco Recycling (New Hanover), and Sonoco Recycling (Wake) – will improve single-stream operations with the purchase of additional processing equipment. The Glass Packaging Institute will provide supplemental funding for the Raleigh Sonoco and America Recycling projects to process glass more efficiently.
  • Grants will support food waste collection and compost processing capacity with companies such as CompostNOW (Wake), Full Circle Recycle (Wake), SMART Recycling (Wake), and Wallace Farm (Mecklenburg).
  • Grants will spur additional construction and demolition waste recycling by companies such as Abbey Green (Forsyth), FFD II (Gaston), and New East Recycling (Pitt).
  • Additional end-use market capacity will also be expanded for concrete, pallets, asphalt shingles, and plastics with projects by companies such as Berry’s Container Service (Gaston), Johnson Brothers Paving (Robeson), Kamlar (Nash), and PlyGem (Columbus).
  • Plastic recycling capacity will also get a boost with projects to increase processing of rigid plastics and agricultural plastics from companies such as Plastic Materials (Gaston) and Verity Recycling (Randolph) respectively.

Additional information about the Recycling Business Development grant program and the 2016 awards can be found here. For questions, please contact RBAC Grant Manager Wendy Worley at 919-707-8136 or

Sonoco Recycling Opens New MRF in New Hanover County

Sonoco Recycling LLC opened a new material recovery facility in New Hanover County in March to process single-stream recyclables from New Hanover County, the city of Wilmington, and surrounding areas. 

“This agreement, and the infrastructure it brings to the county, provides a tremendous opportunity to enhance recycling efforts countywide,” said Joe Suleyman, environmental management director for New Hanover County, a partner in the development of the Sonoco MRF.

Using 20,000 square feet of the county’s former waste-to-energy facility, Sonoco will be able to process 2,000 tons of residential single stream and 500 tons of commercial recyclables per month. The company has invested more than $1 million dollars in the New Hanover facility and expects to employ 14 people.

Maximizing capital investments and processing efficiency, Sonoco is employing the “hub-and-spoke” model by pairing its New Hanover and Onslow county facilities. In New Hanover County, Sonoco’s state-of-the-art equipment will sort mixed paper, cardboard and glass to capture approximately 80 percent of the incoming material. The remaining 20 percent, consisting primarily of aluminum cans, steel cans and plastics, will go to the company’s material recovery facility in Onslow County to be further sorted and prepared for market.

Recent equipment upgrades at the Onslow County facility include a new tipping building, a metering drum and an optical sorter, which will allow more efficient sorting of the container stream.

"We’re very excited to take this new step in operating two unique MRF’s (material recovery facilities), designed to run in conjunction and maximize our processing efficiency," said Brian Shea, plant manager at Sonoco's New Hanover and Onslow county facilities. "With the significant investments made at both facilities in the past 12 months, we see a bright future in working with our partners at both New Hanover and Onslow to serve the local communities."

Up-fits of both facilities were supported by grants from the Carton Council of North America and NC Recycling Business Assistance Center.

For more information, contact Brian Shea at or 910-455-6903.

Upcoming Study to Show Progress and Trends in NC Composting

Composting of organic waste is moving right along in North Carolina. A study analyzing the past five years of organic materials processed at permitted composting facilities is underway. It will show current trends from tipping fees to amount of feedstocks processed.

In fiscal 2014-15, more than 1.4 million tons of organic materials were processed at permitted composting facilities, wastewater treatment plants, anaerobic digesters, yard waste notification sites and mulching operations. Of this total, more than 50,000 tons of food scraps were processed, mainly at private composting and anaerobic digestion businesses.

The report will also highlight animal feeding operations and food rescue efforts, which make up roughly one-third of the total food diverted from disposal this past year. If you are interested in receiving a copy of the report when it is released, please email Jorge Montezuma at

Carolina Recycling Association Celebrates 26th Annual Trade Show and Conference

The Carolina Recycling Association celebrated its 26th annual trade show and conference March 21-24 in Wilmington. More than 600 recycling professionals from North and South Carolina attended the conference as well as different parts of the Southeast. 

One of the highlights of this year’s conference was the Zero Waste Flea Market, where recycling vendors networked with attendees from the Manufacturers Zero Waste Conference that ran concurrent to CRA. Manufacturing companies put their hard-to-recycle items on display for recycling service providers to offer market solutions. The 2016 Manufacturers Zero Waste Conference also brought more than 100 additional attendees to many CRA opportunities, including the exhibition hall.

The final conference program and many of the presentations from the sessions can be downloaded here

The CRA conference returns to Myrtle Beach, S.C. in 2017.

Announcements & Opportunities

  • Republic Services, Inc. has announced plans to open a full-service Customer Resource Center in Charlotte. The project will create more than 350 jobs over the next three years with a $6.8 million investment in Mecklenburg County. More information can be found here


  • The N.C. Division of Waste Management's Solid Waste Section is conducting a survey in regards to the certification for composting facility operators for private businesses and local government facilities. If you are interested in providing feedback, please fill out this survey or email Shawn McKee at