In April, RePower South turned its machinery on to serve Berkeley County with a new single-stream recycling plant. Situated next to the county’s landfill, RePower South’s goal is to curb the amount of garbage going into the ground by sifting through it all to find the recyclable material.
In the last two months, RePower South has made “good progress,” according to Plant Manager Karl Stechmesser.
“We’re processing between 150 and 500 tons a day now, which is more than adequate to cover the entire waste stream of Berkeley County,” he added. “We are accepting 100 percent of the county’s waste, we are running it through our process.”
All garbage produced in Berkeley County goes through the multi-faceted procedure at the RePower South facility that uses robotics, scanners, and other advanced techniques to sort the recyclable material from the trash.
The facility is recovering (or reusing) approximately 20 percent of the county’s garbage at this point. RePower South expects to convert another 30-35 percent of material into a bio-fuel called ReEngineered Feedstock, with potential to pelletize for specific customer requirements (currently baled in fluff form).
“We do still have our OEM [Original Equipment Manufacturer] onsite, so we’re still in the process of getting our equipment dialed in and fine-tuned to capture absolutely everything that we can,” Stechmesser explained.
RePower South’s target is to recover 60 percent of the overall waste stream.
“The 50-60 percent is the end goal, which we are getting better every day at, but we’re not quite there just because our system’s not completely dialed in yet,” he said.
The plant manager believes that the facility will meet its objective percentage by the end of the summer.
“Realistically, I think it will probably be another couple months,” Stechmesser said.
One of the biggest points of confusion for some Daniel Island citizens is still what to do with their subscription to Republic Services, an independent contractor that several residents use for recycling. Because of the convenience of single-stream recycling, where everything goes into one bin, Berkeley County will let their recycling contract with Republic Services expire on August 31.
Republic Services will continue to pick up trash for the county, but not recycling because everything will be in the same receptacle. According to Hannah Mouldenhauer, Berkeley County’s public information officer, residents will not need to cancel their accounts with Republic Services because they will not be renewed after August 31.
Individual residents may continue a private contract with Republic Services for recycling pick-up if they choose to, stated a customer service representative reached at the company by phone on Tuesday. “As long as we are servicing that area,” she said.
Some residents have also requested education programs from RePower or Berkeley County to inform the public about recycling. According to Stechmesser, the two are working together to develop that initiative.
“We are planning on having educational field trips here when school starts back up just to continue that education process, as well as to inform the younger generation of how things can be recycled,” he stated.
Daniel Island resident Carina Buckman has been following the transition closely and has reached out to both RePower South officials and Berkeley County Councilman Josh Whitley to gain more knowledge about the plant’s operations.
“I am especially reassured that RePower is a great addition to our community and a bigger part of the waste solution than I thought,” she noted. “While I planned on transitioning from traditional recycling to RePower, I wanted to do so when RePower was fully up and running and wasn’t sure when that would be. It was reassuring to hear that while the fuel pellet process needs some fine tuning, sorting and recycling is up and running.”