Environment, Exclusives, Featured, Sherrie Peif

State agency abruptly shuts down shingle recycling biz in Windsor, owner looking for reasons why

WINDSOR — A Colorado company with new technology for recycling asphalt shingles that could save landfills from thousands of gallons of oil and other contaminants seeping into the ground, has been shut down by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) without any apparent cause.

According to Howard Brand, owner of Brand Technologies, Inc., CDPHE representative Wolf Kray came to his site in Windsor on Thursday while he was gone and ordered the operation shut down for “possible illegal activity,” but didn’t elaborate on what that activity might be.

Brand has since found out, although not from CDPHE, that the government agency is claiming his site is an illegal disposal site. Kray apparently told the railroad operators that “no additional waste shingles should be accepted, and all shingles should be removed from the site.”

Brand said he was told by CDPHE last year that he would not need a permit. Because he is not disposing of the shingles, they are not considered solid waste.

“We are only transporting them from one facility to another to process,” Brand said.

Kray, who as of press time, still had not given Brand a reason for the shutdown, is listed on the CDPHE’s website as the head of recycling. His only communication with Brand was an email that said Brand could expect a report.

Kray also has not returned calls from Complete Colorado for comment or from or Sen. Vicki Marble, R-Fort Collins, who is working on behalf of Brand to get answers, she said.

Fort Collins Mayor Wade Troxell, who is also working with Brand to figure out a solution, said he did speak to someone at CDPHE and there seems to be some unanswered questions.

Troxell said an innovation like Brand’s would go a long way to help Fort Collins reach its sustainability goals concerning asphalt shingles.

“It fits into our sustainability goals,” Troxell said. “We think that having alternatives, particularly reuse and recycling options, is a good thing. I’m hopeful there is permitting and the ability to do the processing and there is a viable innovation that he has to solve a significant challenge as it relates to landfill diversion.  At the end of the day, if he has the process and technology and permitting, I’m all in.”

Brand says his biggest issue with CDPHE is his business is not a disposal site and they handled it poorly.

“Nothing is being disposed of,” Brand said. “In no way, by any definition, are we a disposal site. He took it of his own initiative to classify us a solid waste site. And he just came in here and shut me down with no explanation.”

Brand’s company began recycling asphalt shingles about three months ago. The process starts at a collection site in Windsor on the old Kodak facility. Roofing companies, rather than taking old shingles to a landfill, deliver them to Brand, pay a fee (less than they would at a landfill), and Brand then loads them onto a rail car to go out of state to be recycled.

The recycling processing plant is not currently located in the state because Colorado does not recognize shingles as a recyclable product. However, he is looking for land and working to bring the processing plant here, where he and all the members of his board live, he said.

Brand owns multiple patents for chemicals and technology he created that result in the manufacturing of oil, gravel, and fiberglass from asphalt shingles. It is a 100 percent recovery and no part of the shingle ends up in a landfill, he said.

“We are the first company to take an asphalt shingle and grind it up 100 percent and convert it to oil, fiberglass, and gravel,” Brand said. “We have saved thousands of barrels of oils from seeping into the ground in the landfill. All we are is a transfer facility. And we did it without one penny of taxpayer money. This is a private industry.”

Brand profits by selling the oil, fiberglass, and gravel. It’s a process he says is a win-win situation for everyone.

It saves homeowners money because the roofing companies can pass the fee savings onto their clients, Brand said. It also preserves the life of landfills with less waste.

“It takes a huge environmental negative and turns it into a positive,” Brand said. “Those shingles in a landfill eventually break down and decompose into hydrocarbons and leak other chemicals into the groundwater.”

In 2016, the Colorado Solid and Hazardous Waste Commission passed a resolution adopting statewide and regional solid waste diversion goals. For the Front Range, which includes Weld County where Brand operates, the goal is to divert 32 percent of the solid waste into “recycling, composting or anaerobic digestion of municipal solid waste” by 2021, 39 percent by 2026 and 51 percent by 2036.

“That is what we are doing,” Brand said. “We are diverting material from the landfill. We have sent 11 railcars out of Colorado so far.”

The Environmental Protection Agency reports that 11 million tons of asphalt shingles end up in landfills every year, which overtime decomposes into 22 million barrels of oil that have nowhere to go but into the groundwater.

Brand’s operation is only a small dent in that, but a dent nonetheless he said.

“If we’re taking 1 or 2 percent of the material, I’d be shocked,” Brand said. “We just opened up the facility in a test market to see what we could do. We’ve shipped out 800 tons of material so far. That is 1,500 barrels of oil that will not be ending up in Colorado landfills.”

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