At 110,000 sq. ft. (10,219 sq m), the Southern Nevada Recycling Complex will double residential recycling capacity in the area and will have the capacity to process roughly 265,000 tons (240,403 t) on an annual basis.
When it came to recycling, there was a time not so long ago when southern Nevada lagged behind much of the nation.
As Len Christopher, general manager of Republic Services, put it, “There was a lot of room for improvement here.”
But now that is all so much old history. Crews began work in Nov. 2014 on what is slated to be the largest residential recycling facility in the nation. At 110,000 sq. ft. (10,219 sq m), the Southern Nevada Recycling Complex will double residential recycling capacity in the area and will have the capacity to process roughly 265,000 tons (240,403 t) on an annual basis. It is set to open in fall 2015 and is expected to eventually employ 180-full-time personnel.
“It is fitting that a recycling complex of this magnitude is coming to Las Vegas,” said Tim Oudman, area president of Republic Services. “Southern Nevada is home to considerable natural beauty, and this community is deeply committed to sustainability. We are truly proud to invest in a recycling complex that will help preserve the local environment for future generations, and enable customers to meet or exceed their recycling goals.”
The Chicago-based Cambridge Construction company is in charge of building the project, and is partnering with The CP Group of San Diego, which will install the recycling equipment.
Ninety-five percent of the building is pre-engineered steel, according to Jeff Eriks, a partner at Cambridge, a design build firm that has specialized in building waste-related facilities since 1986. It’s an extremely tall building, with roughly 40-ft. (12 m) tall eaves and consists of three separate pieces: the tipping building, where the material comes in; the processing building, where materials are processed and the bale storage building.
“The tipping building consists of a lot of cast-in-place concrete walls inside the steel building,” Eriks said. “Because of the daily abuse these buildings take from the trash and motors working around the building, they have to be extremely durable. We are doing a white roof to try to limit the heat island effect and keep the building cooler since it is in Las Vegas. The slabs are 9 to 12 inches thick. That’s because in the loading area it takes a lot of abuse from bucket of the loader scraping, and in the process building it’s because of the weight of the equipment.”
A two-story masonry and structural steel office building is attached to the facility. The first floor will house all of the employee areas, break room and locker room. The second floor will house offices and an educational area. The facility sits on 18 acres in North Las Vegas about one mi. off of I-15.
The general contractor currently has 10 to 12 pieces of equipment on site, including belly pan earth movers, excavators and dozers.
“When we start doing the concrete work, we’re going to be pumping a lot of concrete,” Eriks said. “There will be five pits in the building to accommodate the equipment. Obviously, when they start setting the building, there will be a couple of good-sized cranes on site. Also, there’ll be several articulating forklifts on the property. In terms of jobs during construction, we anticipating having 70 guys on site daily from the time we start pouring concrete to the end of the job.”
While convincing southern Nevada residents to recycle is no longer the challenge it once was, building the facility comes with a few challenges of its own.
One of those is the poor soil in Nevada.
“This area in particular has a lot of poor soils with a high swell factor,” Eriks said. “As it gets moisture, it changes. A lot of soil we’re having to take out and bring in soil that doesn’t have those issues.”
But the real challenge lies ahead when the CP Group begins setting equipment.
“They have a five month install time,” Eriks said. “We have five months to get it to a point where they can start setting the equipment. The last five months we will be working around them. We’ve done it before and it is challenging. As long as everyone works together, it will be OK. We’ll be erecting the metal building around them as they are installing equipment. There will be a lot of safety issues. That is going to be the most challenging piece of construction.”
But once it’s finished, Christopher expects it will be a great point of pride in the area and quite likely something of a tourist destination in its own right.
The complex will feature an interactive learning center offering visitors a first-hand view of the recycling process. It will include displays, videos and educational materials on recycling and sustainability. The learning center is intended to be a resource for the community and customers, as well as an educational destination for sustainability-minded Las Vegas tourists.
“On the second floor, we’ll have glass that you can look out into the facility,” Christopher said. “We do a tremendous amount of tours now. But for safety reasons we can’t take them out on the floor. We will be able to literally walk them through from when the truck tips to putting the bale on a truck to the manufacturer. The more we teach the kids to recycle, the more they are the trash police at home.
“It’s going to take the visitor’s center to the next level as far as being interactive. The customers want this. We get calls all the time from scouting groups, from schools. They want to understand it. Folks don’t understand all the work that goes into actually running waste through a system and creating a bale of material that is going to wind up creating another product. Everyone is pretty excited about it.”