Portfolio Company Spotlight
A feature on a Closed Loop Partners investment

Building Infrastructure and Enabling Recycling

ECUA logo

When the Infinitus MRF in Montgomery, Alabama suddenly closed, the Emerald Coast Utilities Authority (ECUA) and its neighbors were left without another sortation facility within a five-hour drive.

Rather than wait for another privately-owned MRF to enter the market, the utility decided to build its own single stream facility. A loan from CLIF provided about 30% of the required capital for the new facility, which opened in September 2016.

Since our funding, the ECUA MRF has become a regional asset for a region that had not previously had a long-term or reliable solution for processing recyclables. Escambia County has continued to expand its own collections and has entered into collection contracts with 11 municipalities in Florida and Alabama and three private haulers.

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Impact Highlights

From January 2017 through September 2018, the facility processed more than 68,000 tons of materials, and grew the share of materials coming from nearby municipalities.

1,100,000 metric tons of GHG emissions avoided by 2026.

From January 2017 through September 2018, the facility generated $4.2 million in economic benefits and is expected to reach $20 million by 2026.

The Process

The facility has a processing capacity of 25 tons an hour, or 45,000 tons annually, to allow for 100% growth in ECUA’s collection stream.

The facility accepts paper, metal, glass and plastic, and equipment includes a Nihot glass cleaning system and a machine with bagripping teeth to release bagged materials. Both technologies are designed to maximize materials recovery and increase profitability in the commodities market.

As of September 2018, ECUA has generated $1.9 million in revenue, operating at a profit margin of 16% over the lifetime of the facility. Additionally, it has averaged a $30 per ton positive cash flow and if similar economics continue, ECUA would repay its debt and investment in the project in under 10 years.

The Results

Since its inception, the ECUA MRF is processing close to 39,000 tons a year, and in doing so, has generated three types of economic benefits:

  • Savings to ECUA, in the form of avoided tipping fees. ECUA has avoided $2.3 million in tipping fees and generated $1.9 million in revenue, for an average total economic benefit of $96 per ton;
  • Tipping fees collected from other municipalities and haulers;
  • Revenues from commodity sales.

For more information about Emerald Coast Utilities Authority, please visit their website.

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