Things are bustling in this old Mack Trucks plant in Allentown. Truck after truck swings by to dump piles of construction and manufacturing debris, filling the plant with the noise of back-up alarms and creating a dusty cloudiness visible near the lights along the 30-foot-high ceilings. Nearby, an orange excavator springs to life, stretching its arm and then clenching its claw around a fistful of the pile, spewing it out into a smaller line on the floor. Next, workers — dressed in neon yellow vests and hardhats, along with white dust masks strapped around their faces — jump in, sorting through the materials and throwing metals, wood and rubble into the corresponding bin.
Revolution Recovery opened the plant last year as an alternative to landfills in the area. The company bought the 11.5-acre, century-old property at 644 S. 10th St. in December 2017 for $4 million, lured to the recycling opportunity created by the Lehigh Valley’s development boom. Right now, Revolution Recovery’s operations occupy 80,000-100,000 square feet of the 265,000-square-foot building. While the company plans to rent out some of the space, the additional square footage gives it space for expansion and storage as its customer base grows. As it is now, the facility processes about 200 tons of waste per day, which is eventually expected to be closer to the 500 tons the company’s other two facilities handle.
The site’s employment also is expected to grow. The facility employs just under 20 people, but that number could easily hit 30 by the end of the year, said Brian Gordon, the facility’s manager. Later this year, he expects to make more use of automation in the plant, becoming more efficient with a sort line that uses conveyor belts. Right now, the most automated activity is a cardboard baler that spits out 1,500-pound bundles.
The company says it’s able to recover about 75 percent of all the construction and manufacturing material that comes in, which translates to diverting hundreds of thousands of pounds daily from landfills. Now, as the company enters its first construction season as a fully operational plant, Revolution Recovery hopes to catch the attention of more property owners, contractors and manufacturers across the area.
The company counts Nick Ressler, owner of Nick’s Enterprises in Allentown, as a customer. Ressler, a one-man operation offering container service to contractors and homeowners, said he believes he was Revolution Recovery’s fifth customer during its soft opening in May. “Once I heard they were coming to the area, I just kept calling them every week asking, ‘When are you opening?’” Ressler said.
Revolution Recovery is near much of his business, allowing Ressler to save time, fuel costs and vehicle wear and tear. While he’ll still go to a transfer station or landfill if he’s in Northampton County, Ressler said he typically goes to Revolution Recovery daily during the week, a place he knows will take the time to pick out whatever can be saved from a pile.