Three years after closing its doors the multi-million dollar recycling center in Montgomery is operating again under a new name. City of Montgomery leaders last week joined executives from RePower South (RPS) and the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce to cut the ribbon at the Montgomery Recycling and Recovery Facility, which resumed advanced residential recycling operations this week. The facility, previously known as Infinitus Renewable Energy Park at Montgomery (IREP Montgomery), shutdown in 2015 when the market price for the materials it collected dropped dramatically.

Over the last several years the number of Americans working in green energy jobs has surpassed the number working in traditional energy jobs such as coal, oil, and gas. In part this boom has been subsidized by the Congress and State or municipal governments in public-private partnerships. This has helped to create an environment where some industries are finding profit where the previously could not while employing almost 2 million workers. For context, according to the most recent Department of Energy labor study there are around 50,000 coal miners in the U.S.

RPS reached an agreement with the City in June 2018 to operate the city-owned facility. In the months since, RPS invested more than $10 million in capital and new additions to the facility, spending more than $12 million total on the project. The City still retains ownership of the facility. The private-public partnership includes a revenue sharing provision, which means the City could receive up to $200,000 annually from RPS, if sales of recovered materials increase.

Mayor Todd Strange says the city will also realize big savings by reducing maintenance and capital costs for sanitation equipment and extending the life of the landfill through the diversion of household garbage and recoverable materials. Construction of a new landfill cells generally cost approximately $2.8 million. RPS Montgomery will create more than 65 new green jobs in the River Region at an average rate of $16 an hour.

When it comes to recycling garbage the name of the game is being able to sell the reclaimed materials to pay the freight on the recycling process.

According to a statement by Strange’s office, new additions to the facility include the latest in advanced recycling machinery essential to turning traditionally landfilled waste, like non-recyclable paper and plastic, into low-carbon, clean fuel. This alternative to coal consumption will be sold to industrial customers and utilities, which will eliminate RPS’ dependence on a volatile commodities market, a weakness in the facility’s previous operator’s strategy.

“This move is just one of many smart city solutions coming to Montgomery’s waste management sector, and we look forward to continuing this momentum into other areas, including access to free Wi-Fi. This type of innovation is just one more benefit to living and working in Montgomery,” said Chairman Willie Durham, Montgomery Chamber of Commerce board chairman.

All Montgomery residential sanitation customers will participate in the program without any extra effort or sorting. Sanitation crews will collect garbage from residents’ green cans – just like the current system – and deliver to the Montgomery Recycling and Recovery Facility where high-tech machinery will sort and recycle. At a perfect 100 percent participation rate, Montgomery will lead the state in recycling.

“Our platform enables greater recycling recovery and does so across the entire Montgomery waste stream,” RPS President Scott Montgomery said. “RePower South creates a low-carbon, clean fuel to help reduce the consumption of coal. Greater recycling, less landfilling and cleaner air at lower cost is a true win-win for the City of Montgomery. We know there’s a better way for our nation to manage garbage, and we are excited that the City of Montgomery agrees. We look forward to this facility serving as a model for the world to move toward a more sustainable waste and energy future.”