As a full-service provider, the Pro Recycling Group has focused on promoting and growing recycling in their communities, growth opportunities, and maximizing investments towards zero landfill initiatives.

Opening in 1978, the Pro Recycling Group has operated for 46 years in the industry-based city of Salt Lake City, UT. The Pro Recycling Group is comprised of a tight group of recycling companies: Pro Baler Services, Inc., an equipment division that provides balers, compactors, and other waste and recycling equipment to the market; Interwest Paper, Inc., the recycling division that provides essential commercial recycling services to the manufacturing, warehousing, and distribution industries; and Pro Polymers a specialty plastic regrind division to handle a variety of industrial types of plastics.


Scott Simar tours the Interwest Paper Salt Lake City Plastic Regrind Facility. The plastic operation processes a wide variety of hard-to-recycle plastics.


er in Northern Utah. Interwest Paper Fleet is diversified to be able to handle many equipment types. Interwest Paper has 10 semi-trucks and more than 125 trailers in its local fleet.
Photos courtesy of the Pro Recycling Group.


Founder Bob Anderson started selling waste and recycling equipment in mid-1978 and formed Pro Baler Services, Inc. He quickly found the need for balers and compactors in retail establishments around Salt Lake City, Utah. One of his first baler sale customers changed his direction forever. Bob sold a vertical baler to a local grocery store chain. During the first month of service, they were very happy with the purchase, and they even got a rebate for the corrugated cardboard generated from the baler. The second month, the rebate went flat to a break-even scenario for the customer. By the third month, the customer was being charged for the bales of cardboard to be picked up and recycled. The customer communicated that they were not interested in recycling anymore. Bob said, “Give me 30 days, and I will find you a solution.” From that moment, Bob started a recycling division called Interwest Paper, Inc. and started one of the first recycling brokerage companies in the West. He formed contracts with many of the large paper mills in the Pacific Northwest areas, including Weyerhaeuser. He started brokering bales of cardboard to the mill systems all over the West. He began to ship cardboard using a unique formula—Mill Price, Less Freight, and a Small Brokerage Fee. This yielded a profit for customers all over the West.
Today, Interwest Paper handles many commercial streams, serving seven state regions including, Utah, Idaho, Nevada, Wyoming, Colorado, Montana, and Oregon, and primarily serving two demographic groups: commercial customers such as manufacturing, warehousing, and distribution, and recycling centers that produce material from post-consumer sources. They operate a sizeable trans-loading warehouse that accepts all types of paper, cardboard, plastics, metals, glass, and waste-to-energy streams. This allows customers to ship loads with a broad mix of materials to get them to market. They also have a large plastic division where four plastic grinders are operated to process many hard-to-recycle grades of plastic, converting 150,000 to 200,000 lbs. per week into plastic regrind. Overall, in 2023, Interwest Paper recycled and transported 192,000 tons of material.

Integrated with their equipment division, Pro Baler Services, the Pro Recycling Group provides a full-service approach to recycling. They can provide any customer with the necessary equipment, maintaining and keeping that equipment running, as well as servicing the customer’s recycling needs by collecting and processing most of their materials. Most customers purchase a cardboard baler and have their bales and other recycling serviced simultaneously. The Pro Recycling Group is a one-stop shop for more than 550 customers over the Western US.

In 2023, the Pro Recycling Group started a new manufacturing company that creates spill-absorbent products from recycled content. Mintech Environmental USA manufactures spill socks, spill booms, spill kits, and many other absorbent products that are commonly used in the industry. The absorbent medium used is made from 100 percent post-industrial content; with new construction on the outside of the products, Mintech creates a product with more than 85 percent recycled content.

Mintech Environmental USA employees manufacture an oil-only spill boom at their new Garland, UT, manufacturing facility. The site produces many spill-absorbent products made from 85 percent post-industrial recycled content.

Adapting to Challenges
The Pro Recycling Group has experienced tremendous growth over the past 10 years, going from a company of about 20 staff to more than 100. Growing quickly and scaling has been challenging over the past decade, but has benefited The Pro Recycling Group tremendously. “Our growth is based on listening to our customers and adapting to their needs. Adding services, such as increasing our semi-truck fleet, has been key to our success,” says Scott Simar Director of Business Development. “We have grown our operations by giving our customers more options on how we pick up their recyclables. Since we are sourcing only from industry and commercial facilities, we have added several flatbed routes where we pick up bales of cardboard using our truck and flatbeds with forklift-mounted trucks. Many of our customers enjoy a 53′ dry van trailer dropped at their docks that accepts all items baled and unbaled. Materials are delivered to our Salt Lake City Transloading hub, where we can take loads with all types of items in one truck. Cardboard, paper, plastics, metals, glass, and waste-to-energy items can also be placed on one truck, and we handle the material from there.”
The Pro Recycling Group has grown its direct handling operations from 10 tons a week about 12 years ago to more than 1,200 tons per week in current operations. The growth has been challenging as new buildings were built and staff and equipment were added throughout the years to keep up with growth. John Wilson, Director of Operations, states, “Through all the growth over the past few years, we have been able to keep the family business feeling. Many employees have several family members who work in the companies. Most importantly, management-wise, we have all the right people in the right seats on the bus to keep our business growing.”

While The Pro Recycling Group has seen a few other hurdles over the past decade, as a service-based organization, they did not close during the COVID pandemic, keeping the phone lines on and, as a result, experienced significant growth. “Let’s face it, recycling and waste never sleep. Providing key services to our customers, especially in a time of uncertainty, was important to us,” comments Smokey Peck, General Manager. “We found that some office staff could work from home and continue to work from home. Providing those employees with additional flexibility gave the company additional office space for growth. Without the pandemic, we would likely have needed to remodel our office space to accommodate all our employees.”
The Group has also seen plenty of negative feedback about plastic recycling, which can make growing a plastic-based operation difficult. “Plastic recycling numbers nationwide have much room for improvement, but that does not discount the everyday advancements in local programs that we see all around the West. So much media says plastic recycling is a failure, but the industry has had a lot of growth in the future. The industry needs to highlight what is being done to improve recycling rates while noting the many issues preventing some plastics from being recycled,” states Beau Peck, Director of Marketing and Zero Waste Services. The Pro Recycling Group has a whole department that aims to improve plastic recycling locally and is a significant part of business operations. “We feel that plastics are here to stay, and avoiding their use is sometimes impossible. We recycle what items we can and promote items in the marketplace that are truly recyclable.”

Another challenge is the growth of recycling businesses in urban areas. “Let’s face it, many cities want to increase their recycling rates but find it difficult to promote recycling facilities in their communities,” says Beau. “There comes a stigma that they are dirty and smelly, and the public does not want to have one in their city limits. For carbon footprint minimization, we need to have our operations close to the generation source near or within major cities. Often, recyclers find they are pushed out of cities and are encouraged to move out to unincorporated areas, which adds to costs and increased transportation costs.” To combat recycling issues and education, Beau serves as President of the Recycling Coalition of Utah, and has been on their board for more 14 years. He is also currently the Executive Director of the Wyoming Solid Waste & Recycling Association. “Waste and recycling is an ever-changing industry and requires constant updates from those in the industry and community. The behind-the-scenes work is constant, and I enjoy supporting non-profit organizations to continue to support efforts to grow recycling daily in our communities.”

An Interwest Paper employee loads a curbside garbage container on a belt to process the scrap plastic. Interwest Paper can recycle many hard-to-recycle plastic grades by grinding locally for use in domestic markets.

Risk Management
Mike Shaw, Director of Safety at the Pro Recycling Group, emphasizes, “The largest risk in a growing company is safety.” As the Pro Recycling Group grew, they realized that the most significant risk to success was having an insufficient safety program. As a result, the company invested in a full-time safety director about eight years ago. Today, the safety department consists of three full-time employees and many safety teams. With the help of technology, safety is now integrated into every part of the company, including weekly group safety meetings, weekly online training for all employees, and countless daily hours aimed toward prevention and education. “Times have changed for safety. Fifteen years ago, it was an environment where safety vests were not mandated, and training was limited. Today, safety is the first step with any new employee with their onboarding. Many employees face three to five training days before they can perform any work.”

In 2023, the company upgraded its safety training/reporting software to a program called KPA, an online computer-based training and database that allows employees to log in from their mobile devices and complete safety meetings, quizzes, and electronic forms while also tracking all employee trends, incidents, and the completed training. One of the biggest successes is expanding the company’s BOS trend reporting. A BOS is a behavior observation safety card. All employees fill out daily forms noting good and bad observations that they encounter. For example, a well-swept-up and tidy work area would get positive feedback from the employees. An employee not wearing safety glasses would get a poor rating on PPE, and so on. “We can track trends and report as a group what trends we see that pose a risk or benefit to the group. Example: Do we have a string of employees not wearing safety belts on forklifts on a specific shift or for an individual? Do we have an area that is constantly having issues blocking fire extinguishers? All of these trends are tracked and give us specific insight into where improvements are needed before they become an incident,” says Mike. “Safety is our #1 goal, so for the many years ahead of us, we plan to maintain a safe working environment because our employees and customers are our key mission. We are also open to growth opportunities that follow our customer’s trends and goals and are excited to see what path that takes in the future.”

Bridge to Zero
In 2019, the Pro Recycling Group launched its first Interwest Paper/Bridge to Zero Site. Bridge to Zero is a full-service program designed for extensive commercial manufacturing facilities that want to go zero waste to landfill or are at zero-landfill status. It bridges the gap between zero landfill and reality by providing fully staffed labor to handle all materials directly. Interwest Paper employees sort, process, bale, and transport all materials, ensuring they are correctly handled. Todd Serr, In-Plant Sustainability Manager, states, “Having personnel that work full-time at a specific site allows us to have our feet on the ground and make impactful changes daily. At one site we manage, more than 35 full-time employees provide 24/7 service, 365 days a year. With our vast knowledge of recycling markets, we ensure that we maximize investment towards zero landfill initiatives and recycle as many materials as possible.” Todd has a hands-on approach to recycling. “If we manage a specific item from the point of generation to billing, we can find the best solution for the customer. If we are not fully involved, it is easy to miss improvement opportunities.”

“The growth of our Bridge to Zero program has given our company a new business concept. Traditionally, it was all about recycling markets, but growing in the service industry allows us to scale and become more sustainable. The Bridge to Zero program has become a huge achievement for the Pro Recycling Group and proves to our team that we can overcome any challenges that come our way,” says Beau.

Future Expansion
The Pro Recycling group is currently planning on expanding services. While they operate one terminal in Salt Lake City, UT, they have purchased 10 acres of land in Garland, UT (about 1.5 hours North of Salt Lake City) and have plans in 2024 to build and complete a second terminal. This expansion project will add 10 more jobs to the area and help minimize the company’s carbon footprint by reducing the miles its commercial fleet travels. The area also has limited recycling resources and has many new businesses moving to the area that need recycling options at their doorstep. The site will begin with a 20,000-square-foot trans-loading and baling facility to process materials in Northern Utah and southeast Idaho. | WA

For more information about the Pro Recycling Group, e-mail [email protected]. To hear from the founder of the Pro Recycling Group, visit