Kevin Herb started his construction and demolition (C&D) recycling company like many owners in the industry: with one truck, working out of his home. Today, Broad Run Recycling in Manassas, Virginia, is a leading recycler of mixed C&D debris in the Washington metro area; and Herb has become an industry leader reaching far beyond the District of Columbia, serving as president for the national association representing the industry, the Milwaukee-based Construction & Demolition Recycling Association (CDRA).
Broad Run brought in $18 million in business in 2015, according to Herb and he anticipates the company reaching the $21 million mark this year. This success is relatively new.
“All of that really came recently,” Herb says of the company’s financial achievements “We got our certification in 2014, and that’s when the momentum started. Certification sells itself.”
Herb refers to a national certification program overseen by the Recycling Certificate Institute (RCI). Broad Run is the only C&D recycling facility in the Washington metro area that has the certification designed to ensure integrity, transparency and accuracy in the recovery and recycling reports of participating C&D recycling facilities.
The certification gained more significance when in mid-2014 the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), Washington, approved an Innovation and Design point through its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Pilot Credit Library on projects seeking LEED certification. The point is available to projects when the C&D debris is recycled at C&D recycling facilities with recycling rates that have received independent third-party certification.
“It wasn’t until the USGBC created that extra point that put the value into the certification,” Herb says.
Communicating the importance and benefits of certifying C&D recycling facilities is one of Herb’s goals as CDRA president, Milwaukee. Herb took over the two-year role in March 2015, when CDRA leadership was passed from Valerie Montecalvo, president of the Bayshore Family of Cos., to Herb.
Herb addresses a variety of questions regarding how he plans to lead the CDRA; issues he sees in the C&D industry and how the trade association plans to respond; as well as the value of certification and CDRA membership in a Q&A with Construction & Demolition Recycling.
Construction & Demolition Recycling (C&DR): How many members does the CDRA have and how would you describe the general member company?
Kevin Herb (KH): The CDRA has about 300 members. Typical of any CDRA member is an interest in C&D recycling; however, members range from companies that just recycle, to haulers, demolition contractors, general contractors, consultants and vendors. The overwhelming majority of the members are recyclers of C&D.
C&DR: What are some of the benefits of CDRA membership?
KH: The CDRA promotes the viewpoints of C&D recyclers in the legislative and regulatory arenas at the federal, state and sometimes local levels. In order to have a voice in what we say, companies should join the association.
But the CDRA also provides additional benefits, such as access to our 50-state compilation of C&D regulations; white papers on C&D recycling and recycled concrete that provide exclusive industry figures; reduced rates to attend CDRA meetings; and a chance to interact and learn from peers in the C&D recycling industry.
C&DR: Under Valerie Montecalvo’s two-year leadership as president, the association completely rebranded itself, among other accomplishments. What have you accomplished so far in your role as president and what are your future goals for the association?
KH: Valerie did a great job as president, and some of what she started has continued to be implemented and improved, such as bringing in professional management to improve the administrative side of the organization. My goals have focused on growing membership because with numbers come influence and revenue. With the latter, we can continue to better serve the industry.
C&DR: In what direction is the C&D recycling industry heading?
KH: There remains a deep desire by many to recycle as much C&D [debris] as possible. This is no wonder when you consider that, according to the CDRA and the U.S. EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), by weight C&D [debris] is the largest waste stream out there. So we can expect to see a continued push for more regulation and legislation requiring the recycling of C&D [debris].
In addition, we see the continued need to assure that material is being recycled. So much sham recycling has taken place over the years, especially as part of the green building programs. So we expect larger demand for the certification of recycling rates for C&D recycling facilities.
We here at Broad Run were the first company in the country to have our facility certified under the Certification of Recycling Rates (CORR) program, the only ISO-level certification program available, and the only one accepted by the LEED program. Under LEED, facilities certified by CORR can offer their customers one extra point that their noncertified competitors can’t. This is one major step to stop sham recycling.
C&DR: What challenges are apparent in the C&D recycling industry today?
KH: Currently the CDRA is working on a variety of industry issues, including the final steps in gaining an exemption for C&D wood fuel from EPA’s onerous Non-Hazardous Secondary Materials (NHSM) Rule (Editor’s note: EPA finalized the NHSM Rule Jan. 29 to include C&D wood, paper recycling residuals, and creosote-treated railroad ties.); mitigating OSHA’s (Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s) proposed silica exposure rule, which threatens concrete recycling; and working with EPA to modify rules for wood pellets for residential wood pellet stoves.
The biggest issue that remains is getting and keeping end markets. For one such problem material, C&D fines, the small material screened out at mixed C&D facilities, we have started a project with the University of Florida to characterize C&D fines in different regions of the country. Fines, or recovered screening materials, are not uniform because C&D materials are different depending on where the facility is located.
C&DR: How does CDRA plan to respond to these issues throughout the year?
KH: We have worked with EPA from the beginning to develop the exemption from the NHSM rule that—if we had not been able to do—would have curtailed the C&D biomass market.
For the OSHA silica rule, we joined the Construction Industry Safety Coalition, a group of related associations that showed the agency that the proposed exposure level allowances were technically unfeasible and economically disastrous.
C&DR: Why is facility certification important, and what is the CDRA doing to encourage certification? How can it provide value to companies?
KH: Not everybody can qualify. No. 1, you have to have a permit and some of these sham recyclers don’t have a permit. … With certification, you’re opening up your books. You’re saying, “Hey, look, here’s what came in and what went out.” They verify the accuracy of your tickets. Now if you’re a sham operation, you don’t have that stuff. You can’t produce that because you’re not doing it, it doesn’t match up. You’re saying you’re recycling 75 percent and that’s your verbal.
Certification requires an audit and it verifies you’re doing what you say you’re doing. … This program has been approved by the USGBC. RCI is the only current approved third-party recycling authorized association. Now that’s not to say there can’t be more in the future, but this is where we are today, it’s a starting point. Once people see the value, like having my story, I hope people see value in it.
[Certification] sells itself. I encourage anybody to come see Broad Run anytime, our doors are open. I’d be more than happy to talk to anybody and answer their questions. I want to see the industry grow; as the industry grows, we grow.
C&DR: As CDRA’s president, what advice do you have for member companies based on your vantage point in the industry?
KH: Get in and stay involved in the association! We are only as strong as the membership wants to be. With over 300 members, we have common goals but more importantly we have many ideas. Many ideas work and some don’t, but until we try, it just stays an idea. Everything starts with an idea but its finishing becomes the challenging part.
As an approach, at our annual show in San Jose (California) in May, I would most certainly like to see more of our members join the committees because that is where the idea starts and then the BOD (board of directors) can help push it through to completion.
C&DR: What’s in store for CDRA during your leadership? Is the association planning to introduce new resources or follow-up with legislative activities?
KH: After we complete the initial step of the C&D fines study, we hope to do pilot projects on new markets for the material. We also hope to update the 50-state profile. Finally, we set up a Strategic Plan 18 months ago, and we hope to move forward on more of the tenets of that plan. (Read more about the CDRA’s Strategic Plan in the sidebar, “Lead the Way” on page 66.). Of course, we will continue to monitor and respond to issues facing the industry.