Located in Brooklyn, New York, Cooper Tank Recycling proudly serves the New York City construction and recycling industries. Cooper has been operating a reliable, innovative, and service oriented construction and demolition (C&D) debris recycling facility since 1984.
The company is currently in the final development stages of a new facility, which will apply state-of-the-art technology to improve recycling rates and efficiency – and will set Cooper up as a leader in the national recycling industry.
Cooper Tank Recycling was established in 1984, as a subsidiary of its parent company Cooper Tank and Welding Corp. which started manufacturing boilers and tanks for residential buildings in 1946, and in the 1950s began to manufacture containers for the waste and recycling industries.
The company was established in response to changing business conditions that created a new industry. “In 1984, New York City announced the closure of the Fresh Kills Landfill for private carters in order to preserve space exclusively for the City’s Department of Sanitation use in disposing of residential waste. This in turn created a need and an opportunity, for private transfer stations to handle the city’s commercial waste stream,” said Vice President Naomi Cooper.
Cooper Tank Recycling operates twenty four hours a day, six days a week. “Since we opened, we have operated on the same one-acre site in Brooklyn,” Naomi said. “We have a permit to accept 1,875 tons per day but can only process, on average, 1,200 tons per day due to space constraints on the site and processing constraints with equipment. Even with those constraints we recycle seventy-five to eighty percent of that to beneficial end uses.”
Into the future
In order to increase its processing capacity and improve recycling capabilities, Cooper Tank Recycling recently began developing a new five-acre site, a half-mile away from its existing facility. The new and improved ‘Cooper Recycling’ will incorporate state of the art equipment and is expected to be operational in the summer of 2017. The new recycling system has been designed to process 2,000 tons per day.
“We have spent the last three years designing and engineering equipment with our third-party suppliers and engineers – Sparta,” Naomi explained. “This new triple-line system uses a combination of screens, density separators, shredders, magnets, eddy currents, optical sorting – and it will be complemented by some manual picking, primarily to ensure quality.”
Screens sort materials by size, and shredders reduce materials to consistent sizes. Density separators separate materials based on weight. Eddy currents and magnets separate metals, and optical sorters use cameras and infrared technology to identify and sort materials more effectively than the human eye.
At Cooper Recycling, nearly ninety-five percent of processed materials will be recoverable and recycled. Upgraded technology will also enable the company to maximize the output of its seventy local employees, who play a critical role in day to day operations. “We plan on keeping the same staff, but our production per man hour should increase because of the technology we’re incorporating into the system,” President David Hillcoat said.
Cooper Recycling’s new facility will feature four scales, two inbound and two outbound. “The one scale on our current site is a bottleneck for us, and it’s frustrating for our customers because it results in a very long line that can often be up to one hour long,” Naomi explained. “At our new facility we anticipate that the scales will completely eliminate the bottleneck and the line; we appreciate that time is a valuable asset for our customers and our goal is to provide a service that minimizes the time they spend waiting.”
With advancements in its technology come increases in the quality and recyclability of the materials it recovers. “We should end up with a more exact and purer end product because it is being optically sorted,” stated Ray Kvedaras, General Manager. “We are excited and passionate about our opportunity to recycle,” he added. “We are constantly seeking to improve our practices and equipment. We are also constantly seeking new outlets for recycled material.”
Naomi acknowledged that, “Europe is way ahead of us when it comes to recycling, but the United States is starting to wake up to the fact that we need to improve our recycling infrastructure, and we need to have better outlets for recycled material.”
Cooper Tank Recycling is a U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) member and a member of the Construction and Demolition Recycling Association (CDRA), and the National Waste and Recycling Association (NWRA). Cooper is certified by the Recycling Certification Institute (RCI), which is an important asset for the company.
“We are the only facility in New York City that has RCI certification,” said Naomi proudly. “It took us two years to complete the audit from the RCI, and we continue to report our recycling numbers monthly to them. The additional independent verification from RCI enables us to provide up to three LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) points for development projects when C&D material is taken to our facility – an advantage for developers and architects seeking LEED certification.”
Cooper Tank Recycling is a woman-owned business with MWBE (Minority/Woman-owned Business/Enterprise) certification from New York City. Adrienne Cooper, owner and chief executive officer, feels that “growth in Women-owned businesses in the past decade have outpaced regular industry, and it’s an exciting time to be part of this dynamic group.”
Cooper Tank Recycling is family-owned and operated. A priority for the company remains its employees. Adrienne credits Cooper Tank Recycling’s success to what she referred to as, “an outstanding, dedicated staff of professionals. “We try to be sensitive to everyone and strive to be reasonable and accommodating. We are committed to the safety of our employees and are a place where people enjoy working – we have had a number of employees working here for more than twenty years.”
Looking to the future, General Manager Ray Kvedaras is hoping to, “increase our recovery rate and improve the quality and consistency of our products, in order to achieve a higher return and access to better markets.” This is likely to be addressed by the new facility and its improved accuracy in sorting material. The goal for Cooper Recycling is to eventually recycle one hundred percent of the recyclable material, reducing its exposure to landfills to the absolute minimum.
Cooper is also encouraging the development of local processors and markets to take the recycled materials it processes each day, creating a more sustainable and environmentally friendly supply chain.
With a lot to look forward to in 2017, Cooper Tank Recycling has shown why it is one of New York’s top C&D recyclers and a model for recyclers nationwide.