Just days before devastating tornados ripped across the southern United States on April 27, 2011, the Environmental Services Department in Tuscaloosa, Alabama had been tasked by the city to develop a long-term plan for expanding and upgrading recycling services. The direction was to develop long term goals including a five and ten year plan for service upgrades for the City of Tuscaloosa. (Tuscaloosa is the fifth largest city in Alabama with a population of 93,357 (2012), and also home to the University of Alabama.)
However, there was a problem; there could be no increases to the current budget for operating expenses. Looking back, those instructions may have appeared daunting for the management team: Shannon Daugherty, Director and Stacey Vaughn, associate director. But only a few days later, the task would be impossible.
Numerous tornados touched down on that spring day and a path of devastation and debris was left behind. Now, cleanup efforts would be increasingly difficult, as the recycling center took a direct hit from the EF4 tornado.
“Our recycling fleet was a 100 percent loss and 80 percent of our overall fleet suffered major damage” said Vaughn.
When the final assessment was made over 45 trucks needed to be completely overhauled with chassis and bodies rebuilt or counted as totaled. The news was no better for the Tuscaloosa Environmental Services Department, the 345,000 square-foot recycling center and all equipment had been destroyed, the facility was a total loss.
Immediately, the city and the Environmental Services Department developed a plan to now allow the expansion of recycling services previously restricted by the building constraints of the older, former manufacturing plant. After 13 months of construction and almost three years without a home, this April, the Tuscaloosa Environmental Services Department will truly expand recycling efforts with the operning of a new 60,000 square-foot, $7.575 million dollar facility.
The old facility processed roughly 1,200 tons of recyclable material each month with a horizontal manual tie baler with a single ram and a horizontal down stroke baler. According to ESG, with its expanded recycling services, the Marathon Galaxy 2Ram baler is positioned center stage to handle the needs of the new facility.
“ESG is proud to work closely with valued customers like the City of Tuscaloosa to help them improve their community’s 'Triple Bottom Line' (People, Profit and Planet)," stated Geoff Apthorp, Environmental Solutions Group’s Vice-President of Business Development and Engineering.
"From the people perspective, Marathon’s Galaxy 2R-250-100 baler with container sorting line contributed to Tuscaloosa’s implementation of a 60,000 resident recycling program in a spacious new facility.
"This innovative collaboration also improved our planet by diverting waste from Tuscaloosa’s landfills effectively re-using recovered recyclables and reducing emissions from optimized transportation.
Apthorp continues; "Finally, by leveraging Marathon’s 2Ram superior efficiency performance coupled with more dense material bales, Tuscaloosa improved recycling profits in the forms of lower recovery labor and material transportation costs.”
The future plans for Tuscaloosa’s Environmental Services Department include expanding service for additional residents and with the possible addition of recycling glass and electronics.