Green Biz Finds New Uses for Recyclables

Steve Grossman was an officer at his family’s recycling business when it was sold in the 1980s. Being, in his words, too young and not prepared to retire, Grossman founded and merged several companies to form a new recycling business that offers consulting services, markets traditional recyclables, and develops markets for scrap materials previously headed for landfills.

That business, Westerville-based Grossman Environmental Recycling Inc., launched in Spring 2008.

“We have expanded our consulting in order to meet the demands of communities, colleges, industries, and solid waste districts,” Grossman says. “Traditional recycling is age old, but developing markets for what hasn’t been recycled is a new frontier with no end in sight.”

Read our brief interview with Grossman to learn about ethical destruction, whether he thinks awareness of “green” issues has significantly impacted GER, and his predictions about the future of recycling.

Melanie McIntyre: GER has expanded its book and document destruction efforts. Why?

Steve Grossman: Realizing the demand for secure book destruction, as opposed to reselling new or very new books into the consumer markets, we partnered with several operations capable of consuming these products in a secure means of completing the recycling circle. The demand for security created an opportunity to expand our proven methods of recycling/destruction, as well as provide a feed stock for insulators whose products were becoming in greater demand with consumer needs for harnessing heat and cooling.

MM: Your company claims it’s committed to ethical destruction. What is that?

SG: Ethical destruction is seeing a product actually put into another form for resale as opposed to reselling that product and competing with the original manufacturer. A test book has a resale value on a social network of 15 to 20 times the value of shredding that product and turning it into insulation or feedstock for toweling and tissue manufacturers. The temptation to resell in its original form is great, but, ethically, no generator would want that to happen.

MM: The GER website lists several unusual items it has “successfully marketed.” What do you mean by that?

SG: Many traditional recyclables, such as cardboard, newspaper, office papers, [polyethylene terephthalate], [high-density polyethylene], and many more, are easy to market. Difficult items, such as cardboard with wax on it, office papers with rubber bands in plastic bags, silicone papers, multi-ply roofing, and many more materials, are not traditional yet, after a lot of time and effort, we have been successful in marketing these. We try to think outside of the box and avoid filling up landfills.

MM: Do you think greater public awareness of green issues has affected your business?

SG: To a degree, but we have been doing this for a long time. I think public awareness is simply that: educating and being aware that there are ways to recycle. The small increases we’ve seen, especially in Columbus a great city without an organized curbside recycling plan at this time, nor a city attracting green businesses because of it’s need to generate revenue through landfilling, not avoidance are easy to work with under our existing efforts. We welcome the day when awareness is followed up with doing.

MM: Is there anything else you think I should know?

SG: The next horizon will be expanded glass recycling, food waste recycling, and our sister companies’ successes of marketing biodegradable and compostable bags for industry and retail consumers. Recycling efforts will increase. Technology will improve and, through education and realization that it costs money to recycle, we will all be doing just a little more for ourselves, our vocation, and Columbus.

To learn more about Grossman Environmental Recycling, visit GrossmanEnvironmentalRecycling.com.