When residents and businesses in Davie, Florida, wanted to further their sustainability goals—such as achieving Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building certification from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC)Waste Management (WM), headquartered in Houston, answered the call by opening a $14 million recycling facility known as the Sun 14 Recycling Facility.

“We have a total of five facilities in Palm Beach County processing C&D (construction and demolition) materials, but we had an opportunity at this site to expand the location and make a major commitment [to our community],” Dawn McCormick, community affairs director for WM, says. “We wanted to meet our customers’ demands, they wanted to reach sustainability goals like LEED, and Sun 14 helps process more of their materials and meet these sustainability needs.”

Crossing the t’s and dotting the i’s

Construction began on Sun 14 in April 2017 after a rigorous permitting process that took around a year. McCormick says the company had to work through Broward County and the city of Davie to come up with a site plan and building permit. WM also needed to work with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection for the solid waste permit and operations plan.

While McCormick says there was the “usual back and forth” between WM and public officials to make sure all the permits and plans were completed correctly, there were no big challenges in the process. “This is a highly industrial area, and there was a former facility here, but [the former facility] wasn’t as extensive as what we did now,” she says.

The former facility located at the Sun 14 site was a small operation when WM purchased certain business assets from Sun Recycling. “The new facility is a major upgrade of the former operations,” McCormick says.

The permit allows WM to bring in 22,425 cubic yards of C&D, yard and bulk waste per day. The facility can process about 10,000 cubic yards per day, McCormick says.

Construction took 12 months to complete, and the facility opened on May 9. Currently, it processes C&D debris and yard waste and acts as a transfer station for household bulk waste. Bulk waste, which can be white goods, carpeting and renovation debris like couches, is currently collected by WM and taken to its Okachobee Landfill.

Bulk waste is picked up at the curb monthly, McCormick says, while yard waste is picked up twice per week and can be taken to the curb along with residents’ regular garbage containers. C&D debris, including concrete, asphalt, drywall, metal and wood, is collected through WM-owned roll-off trucks, other haulers and through public drop-off sites. McCormick says there’s one price for cash customers dropping off C&D debris and separate pricing for customers with contracts.

C&D debris is sorted by hand and with equipment from General Kinematics, Crystal Lake, Illinois, and Sherbrooke OEM, Sherbrooke, Quebec. The debris undergoes positive and negative sorting on a line that can handle 750 cubic yards per hour. This line is used to process concrete, wood and metal. The concrete is crushed and used for road base, clean wood is mulched, and metals are transported to a different facility for recycling. Residue wood is shipped to the Wheelabrator South Broward facility in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, and used to create energy from waste.

Clean yard waste, McCormick says, is taken to a compost facility or is mulched at a different location.

Going the distance

McCormick says the facility’s location near the turnpike and Interstate 595 is central to construction activity and keeps the facility busy. Since the facility opened, WM has created 60 jobs on-site.

With all the activity at the site, McCormick says ensuring a safe and neighbor-friendly workplace is one of the biggest challenges.

“The Twin Lakes community is across the waterway, so we were very proactive with their homeowner’s association,” she says. “We put extra landscaping on their side of the waterway and put two additional fountains in to mitigate the noise. We adjusted operating hours in the early morning. We are always working with the Twin Lakes community to make sure we are being a good neighbor and aren’t impacting quality of life.”

WM is also working to install a third fountain near the Twin Lakes community to further mitigate noise.

With the creation of new jobs, its emphasis on being a good neighbor and its commitment to helping customers meet their sustainability goals and requirements, WM is dedicated to making Sun 14 an asset in the community of Davie.

“We’re here to help our customers and provide an important service,” McCormick says. “We really have made major financial investments in infrastructure to meet our customers’ needs and to make sure we’re recycling as much material as possible.”

The author is an assistant editor with Waste Today and can be contacted at hheavilin@gie.net.