One-Stop Recycling

United Material Management

United Material Management (UMM) of Millbury, Massachusetts, founded in 2018, is a privately owned waste management company with a focus on efficient material management solutions. The company provides construction and demolition (C&D) recycling facilities, roll-off and frontload dumpsters for businesses or homes, tractor and trailer services for construction sites and residential curbside trash and recycling, owns rail-serviced transfer stations.
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The sheer volume of construction and demolition waste generated annually in the United States is staggering. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the country generated close to 550 million tons of C&D debris in 2015. C&D waste typically makes up fifty percent of commercial and residential discards.

“Massachusetts is losing a lot of landfill capacity and it doesn’t look a lot brighter for the contiguous states,” says Scott Lemay, UMM founder and Chief Executive Officer. “We realized that what we needed to do was to build facilities that could deal with this disposal crisis.” Lemay, who has an extensive background in permitting and building facilities in Massachusetts, has experienced the ebb and flow of disposal capacity throughout his 30 years in the industry.

United Material Management is the result of a couple of companies and entrepreneurs that came together after realizing that, over the past five years, over two million tons of disposal capacity had been eliminated in the state. “There’s a supply and demand imbalance between the capacity and the amount of material that’s being generated,” says Scott. “The more that can be recycled the less that needs to be disposed. And there’s a shortage of disposal.”

The company “invested millions in a state-of-the-art facility that allows us to be able to process a lot of the material so that we can have resource conservation and recycling. That diminishes our need for landfilling,” he explains. “There is a capacity shortfall. Every pound that we can recycle means that we don’t need to be reliant on a landfill. We really have a dual purpose from the standpoint of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection,” which has, “been at the forefront of setting rules for construction recycling and they’ve put through some initiatives in order to process material. We certainly saw that need.”

Proper waste disposal management planning combined with innovative recycling programs will aid in protecting the environment, preserving landfill space, and conserving valuable resources. The state has a recycling law with waste bans and a regulation stipulating that there are “certain materials that they don’t want to be landfilled,” says Scott.

As part of its business plan, UMM built its C&D recycling facility and also contracted with rail facilities. “We can move material, export material out of the state knowing that there’s a two million ton per year capacity shortfall. So the state will be exporters.”

Rail service is an efficient form of transportation, not only from a transportation perspective, but, perhaps more importantly, “It also helps with carbon emissions … For every ton of material that moves by rail, it reduces carbon emissions by about four times.”

According to the Recycling Construction and Demolition Waste report sponsored by the Boston Society of Architects (BSA), Associated General Contractors of Massachusetts (AGCMA) and the state’s department of environmental protection, “In almost all cases, the cost of recycling is lower than the cost of throwing material away. It depends on how efficient your operation is and the economies of scale,” Scott notes of the potential results. “We built a plant that has the latest technology, and as a result, we can move a lot of material and achieve maximum recovery.”

He indicates that for about ninety-five percent of contractors, discarded material is mixed debris. The company’s C&D facility includes equipment such as air separators, screens, and eddy currents that remove non-ferrous material and magnets that remove the ferrous metal. Picking stations remove such materials as asphalt, brick, concrete, corrugated material, and wood, the largest commodity by weight. Material shredders and screens can be used to reduce contamination in the recycling stream. In the case of wood, this can allow for different recycling applications such as biofuel, particle board, et cetera.

“UMM’s Millbury permit allows for acceptance of up to one thousand tons per day and the facility’s daily acceptance averages somewhere between five hundred and six hundred tons a day,” says Scott, adding that its latest report indicates that the company diverts a little over seventy-five percent of materials from disposal at the landfills.

So C&D recycling is big business and lends itself to sustainable building. A large percentage of C&D materials – asphalt shingles, concrete, drywall, metals, tile, and wood, for example, can be recycled as aggregates rather than being sent to landfills.

The demand for C&D recycling is partly the result of contractors and developers wanting to be rewarded with LEED points and certification. This demonstrates that a project has an integrated design that is energy efficient, and sustainably built. The company provides LEED reports to projects that require these LEED credits, says Scott.

“You have people wanting to be responsible in terms of recycling and conserving resources,” he says. “Our entire business plan has been built around conserving resources, recycling, and efficient transportation to end disposal, which is why we have the processing facilities and the rail.”

Recently, the Baker-Polito administration of Massachusetts awarded one million dollars under the Recycling Business Development Grant (RBDG), administered by the state department of environmental protection, to six companies for improved processing and managing of mixed recyclables. UMM of Millbury was a grant recipient after requesting the funds for an enhanced wood sorting component of its recycling line, which the team hopes will add 4,500 additional tons of wood recovery annually.

The grant also helps UMM to employ as many as twenty-two people at its picking stations explains Scott, adding that sometimes a picking station may be focused on such materials as asphalt, brick, and concrete (ABC) or metal, for example. “There are times when such materials are not flowing, and this enhanced wood recycling component enables us to configure the bins and the associated conveyors in such a way that every employee can pick wood at all times. By not starting and stopping different material batches, it has allowed us to increase the percentages of wood recovery.”

The company has acquired other waste disposal companies in Massachusetts such as Redi-Rubbish, D’Auteuil Disposal, Millbury Rubbish, and in 2017, EZ Disposal Service West. It has also proposed constructing a new solid waste transfer station with rail access in an industrial park in Leominster, about twenty-nine miles north from Millbury on thirteen acres of land off Route 117. This facility would handle both municipal solid waste and C&D waste.

UMM has permitted the rail facility and gone through the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) and site suitability through the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection. The company also got a site assignment through Leominster’s board of health. “One of our company’s missions is to help deal with the diminishing capacity and being able to recycle and move material – export material – efficiently.”

C&D material can now be taken from Leominster to Millbury’s facility. “It assists in exporting waste out of the market for the community. As all of these disposal options continue to diminish, they get a very significant benefit in terms of having disposal infrastructure that allows them to be able to access disposal sites as far as one thousand miles away … It was all underutilized infrastructure, and now it’s going to be able to be utilized in a way that is a major benefit to everyone in the community.”

The company is affiliated with associations including the Environmental Business Council of New England (EBCNE), the Construction and Demolition Recycling Association (CDRA) and the National Waste and Recycling Association (NWRA).

Scott believes membership in such associations is essential given the complex nature of the industry. “Everyone is communicating about what the waste bans are, how to recycle, and what the expectations are in terms of recycling and for people to understand the capacity shortfalls and the importance of transportation infrastructure,” he says.

“We’re a full-service provider. We’re ahead of the curve in terms of the technology that we deploy in order to efficiently and economically recycle construction material. The infrastructure that we have put in place has allowed us to better service customers. We’re kind of a one-stop shop when it comes to that.”

Industry Changemakers

The construction industry has historically been slow to evolve, drawn to tradition over technology. As the industry is in a state of rapid innovation and advancement, organizations like the Toronto Construction Association (TCA) are working tirelessly to build strong member businesses that won’t fall behind.

June 19, 2019, 8:05 AM EDT