‘Amazing Green Machine’ opens in Shelton to sort recyclables

What is being touted as the most technologically advanced recycling center in Connecticut has opened in Shelton.

On Monday, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy visited the $15-million Winters Bros. Waste Systems facility on Oliver Terrace, not too far from Bridgeport Avenue, to mark Earth Day.

“I appreciate that kind of investment,” said Malloy, who promoted recycling as a way to create jobs, increase tax revenue and boost the economy while “we make our environment cleaner and stronger.”

The governor said he is encouraging all municipalities to implement single-stream recycling, which allows people to put a multitude of different recyclable materials in one receptacle for pickup.

This serves to increase recycling rates, and is having an economic spin-off by creating a market to separate, package, and sell the recycled materials to mills and other factories.

Malloy said private companies are investing in the field because it has such a bright future. The facility in Shelton was built without any government funding.

‘Amazing Green Machine’ is operational

Winters Bros. calls the materials recovery facility in Shelton its “Amazing Green Machine.” It’s where items from single-stream recycling in many nearby communities will be separated to be sold in bulk.

Mayor Mark Lauretti said “green” is good both for the environment and the city coffers. “There’s a lot of taxable income here,” Lauretti said during the Earth Day ceremony.

Joe Winters, company CEO and part owner, praised Lauretti for his help on the project, saying the mayor “has been an excellent partner for us.”

“What do you say we fire this machine up,” Winters told the crowd at the Earth Day event.

Many tons a day can be processed

The new 60,000-square-foot center can handle 250 tons of items a day, or 143 million pounds a year, and recycle up to 95% of the materials. It will employ about 35 people.

Accepted are recyclables from homes and businesses, but not contaminants or hazardous wastes. They are processed using conveyers, disc screeners, optical sorters, magnetic sorters, electric currents, and balers.

The facility is allowed to operate from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday. It is on a 16-acre property owned by Winters Bros. on Oliver Terrace, which is off Platt Road between Bridgeport Avenue and Route 8.

“A lot of work went into this the last 12 months,” Winters said.

Todd Anderson, who works at the plant, was excited about Malloy’s visit and the facility’s opening, noting the project began last summer.

“We’re thrilled to have the governor here,” Anderson said. “This place has come a long way in a short time.”

Eco-progress since the first Earth Day

Malloy said environmental awareness has progressed a lot since the first Earth Day in 1970. He remembers as a child going into New York City from Connecticut and coming home covered in soot.

The governor has set a goal of recycling 42% of trash in Connecticut, which he said statewide would create 5,000 jobs, add $250 million annually in private sector payroll, and generate $746 million a year in sales of recycled products.

Winters said the Shelton facility will help the state get closer to the governor’s goal in the near future. “We’re very excited about that,” he said.

‘It makes a lot of sense’

Lauretti said debris that used to go into the environment now is “turning into a revenue source. It really is the way to go. It makes a lot of sense.”

The Shelton plant will bring efficiencies of scale and higher productivity to the business of sorting recycled materials, he said. “I think you made the right bet here,” Lauretti told Joe Winters.

State Rep. Larry Miller, whose district includes Shelton, presented Winters with a General Assembly citation praising the new Shelton facility.