Early in 2015, the line at MBL Recycling (mblrecycling.com) passed the 1 million-ton milestone...1 million tons of abrasive, heavy C&D materials.

MBL runs an A-Line (overs) and B-Line (fines) sorting system at its location in Palatine, Illinois. It averages 400 tons per day, five days a week. 2014 was a banner year for MBL, and volumes pushed upward of 134,000 tons. Sometimes they processed 450 tons daily.

Wendy Gold and Rob Lenzini are the sister-brother duo who own and operate MBL. She handles the office. He handles operations.

The A-Line/B-Line system includes initial sizing with a primary FINGER-SCREEN™ followed by hand sorting of the various commodities. MBL still is using the original fingers from the installation a decade ago, processing more than 1 million tons of C&D without failure. The B Line includes a secondary FINGER-SCREEN™ and the DE-STONER® Air Classifier.

The company's B-Line strategy is built around removing the heavy materials - brick, concrete, nonferrous - from the trash. "You'd never be able to pick that kind of volume every day manually," Rob states. "Our system has been great almost 10 years, and we haven't had to do anything to it."

MBL installed equipment manufactured by General Kinematics (GK), Crystal Lake, Illinois in 2005, and the system has seen steady growth since. Key components include GK's primary and secondary FINGER-SCREEN™ and DE-STONER® Air Classifier.

"It is heavy-duty equipment with built-in quality," Rob says. "You have to see it to appreciate it."

MBL's material recovery method eliminates the need for contractors to separate materials at the construction site. They simply bring loads to the MRF.

"We have a great location here in the Chicagoland suburbs," Wendy says.

Although there are neighbors all around the 5-acre site, Wendy and Rob agree that they have not had a single complaint.

"The boys do a lot of housekeeping," Rob notes. That, plus reliable equipment, allowed Wendy and Rob to expand operations and boost volume consistently... even during the C&D downturn in 2008 and 2009.

GETTING STARTED

Wendy and Rob have C&D in their genes. Their parents started Lenzini Excavating in 1973. In 2002, Wendy and Rob started a one-truck operation with ground sorting. In a couple of years, they knew they were onto a good thing and purchased a site that fit their needs.

Time is money. They got the new site up and running between June and Labor Day. The processing operation is completely indoors and its design calls for everything that comes in to go out the same day.

"When we started MBL, I only knew single-line screening and picking," Rob admits. He understood it cost almost twice as much money for a double line as a single one, but the payback on a dual-line system made his bookkeeper sister happy. "You get more recovery and you don't send as much to the landfill," Wendy says.

That's the route they took. The plan worked.

"We'd never be able to keep up our flow with a single line," Rob states. "I'm so thankful we have the double line. You couldn't push our kinds of volume through a single line."

By volume, wood is MBL's single largest fraction. Like most C&D sites around Chicago, its wood goes to a biomass burner in Wisconsin. Drywall gets ground sorted and picked out on the front end before the claw gets to it. It is one of the few fractions that is always landfilled because there is no market for it in Illinois. MBL is actively seeking market opportunities for this commodity.

MBL is a member of Construction & Demolition Recycling Association (CDRA), the U.S. Green Building Council and is an active participant in the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) green building program. The operation has won several prestigious awards, including the Illinois Recycling Association's 2009 Recycler of the Year Award and the Green Building of America's Green Building Award.

Even in the tough times around 2009, MBL saw business drop only about 10 percent. Today, thanks to the uptick in new housing starts, its line is working flat-out.

Usually MBL runs five days and has a half-day Saturday for maintenance and washing the machines. Recently, the equipment has been even busier. "Some Saturdays, the team puts in a full day," Rob says. "That's a good problem to have!"

Reliability is key. The heart of the system is manufactured by GK, which pioneered the application of vibratory separation. Products like the FINGER-SCREEN™ and DE-STONER® Air Classifier efficiently sort and separate recyclables using low-energy and has low-labor requirements.

"The FINGER-SCREEN™ is almost maintenance free," Rob says. He also likes the fact it is easy for his team to clean.

Wendy, looking at the account books, says MBL never has had to shut its doors or turn anyone away because of downtime. "It's crazy how little downtime we've had," she says. "With the volumes we're doing, if we got even one hiccup, it would be a problem. But it is trouble free."

Rob researched alternate technologies. For example, MBL looked at density sorting using water. “It is not right for our environment and climate," Rob says. To him, density sorting in this way is a negative way of approaching the job.

Rob visited only one recycling operation before going with GK equipment. He was impressed with the solid, heavy construction and says, "it outweighed the competitor's equipment."

THE SYSTEM WORKS

Given the chance to redesign, Rob says there is nothing he would change about the line. "I might want to see a few more bunkers - eight rather than the traditional six," he says.

There is always something more to pick. Recently, MBL added vinyl siding to its mix. And it separates asphalt singles out of every load.

With one exception, the line runs today as it was installed in 2005. A few years after installation, Rob decided to pull the original star screen and replace it with a GK secondary FINGER-SCREEN™. "For our type of material, there was just too much wrapping and wear," he explains. The volume of coarse concrete and brick was a killer on the rubber stars.

"The FINGER-SCREEN™ works well, even if sometimes we over-feed it," Rob laughs.

"Our double line might have cost us a few more bucks, but it works," Wendy adds. "It was a big investment, but we know we made the right choice."