NARRAGANSETT—The idea to found a recycling business came from a casual conversation between two college friends, Cory Harrigan of Narragansett and Dylan Gregory of South Kingstown. The dialogue burgeoned as the discussed the need to develop incentive for businesses to recycle, and now the two undergraduates at the University of Rhode Island are owners of Scrap Specialists Recycling, investing their money to purchase 12 dumpsters and contracting their collection services with local vendors.
“Dylan and I have always made every effort to recycle but we know that many people don’t think twice about throwiång a bottle into the trash,” said Harrigan. “The residential recycling business is flooded with vendors offering their services, so we began to examine other areas where we could fill a niche, and were shocked to find out that large producers of recyclable materials are commercial and industrial businesses, and that many of these businesses don’t recycle.”
“If a business currently wants to recycle, they have to pay additional fees for additional dumpsters, or one for each type of recyclable material,” he added. “Once we identified the problem, we began to brainstorm solutions.”
Harrigan and Gregory have thus begun to canvass local automotive businesses and offer their own recycling services, cutting down on costs for transport and recyclable separation.
“After more discussion, we came up with our current service, which offers on-site recycling solutions for any size business free of charge,” said Harrigan. “Although our main clientele are auto body businesses, we are targeting any business that produces ‘waste.’”
“With our idea, we have eliminated one main issue with recycling by providing an incentive for industrial and commercial businesses to recycle,” he added. “Through publicity, sponsoring events, and giving back to the community, we are trying to raise awareness for the benefits of recycling, which include not only less garbage in the landfill, but massive embodied energy savings.”
Their first customer was Crown Collision, an auto body company which has offices in Bristol, Middletown, and Pawtucket. Harrigan and Gregory dropped off a dumpster at each location, and instructed personnel at Crown Collision to throw all of their recyclables, from paper material to scrap metal, into the dumpster. The students sort through and bail the recyclable material when each dumpster is full, and vendors take the separated material away.
“Crown Collision previously had to pay a monthly fee for dumpsters as well as a tipping fee each time the dumpsters had to be emptied, but now we have our dumpsters there and empty them as needed,” said Gregory. “They’re saving $200 to $400 per month per location, and we make our money by selling the recyclable materials.”
Gregory and Harrigan have since entered into contracts with other automotive businesses to dispose of their recyclables, and Crown Collision has come away impressed with the students’ dedication to the environment through a successful business model.
“Scrap Specialists Recycling offer services which make sense financially as well as environmentally, and both businesses agree that a universal recycling scheme is long overdue and much more can be done to reduce our waste streams,” said Pamela Harrigan, Vice-President of Crown Collision. “We at Crown Collision take pride in working with the young and ambitious individuals at Scrap Specialists Recycling, a company that is new and exciting, and it’s rewarding to help passionate college students make a difference in the world.”
“Crown Collision also recognizes the importance of integrating sustainable techniques into our business and see many more ‘green’ opportunities appearing in the future,” she added. “We feel obligated to do what we can to reduce our impact on the environment and understand that every bit counts.”
The two URI students, as they approach graduation and look toward turning their nascent recycling business into full-time positions, stressed the impact which the University’s Environmental and Natural Resource Economics (ENRE) program has had on their understanding of how sustainable, ecologically conscious communities and businesses should operate.
“The ENRE faculty and staff truly motivated us to think outside the box,” said Gregory. “The current system isn’t working, and we have studied countries with over 90 percent recycling rates, while in the U.S., we recycle at most 15 to 20 percent of our waste stream. This is truly unfortunate.”
“Over the past four years at URI I have had the distinguished privilege of getting to know each and every professor on an educational level and on a personal level,” he added. “As we speed towards graduation, I see our relationships developing into professional relationships. URI is a research institution, and we enjoy having the opportunity to be in an atmosphere where change is common and accepted. It’s positive and means you are moving forward. There is no answer in stagnation.”
As Scrap Specialists Recycling grows under the hard work of Gregory and Harrigan, the two students hope that the experience will not only provide significant cost-cutting measures for local companies, but create a more environmentally aware business community that recognizes the health of the globe is an investment which everyone must make.
“We believe recycling is essential in the ‘transformation of awareness’ that must take place in the coming years,” said Harrigan. “Reducing our consumption and reusing the waste we produce is vital in our society if we are to become sustainable. Unfortunately, with the economic downturn environmental issues have taken the back seat.”
“By creating this business and taking recycling to a new level, we hope our efforts will have a ripple effect and encourage people to take similar actions,” he added.
For more information about Scrap Specialists Recycling, contact Gregory at 633-4112.