Peter Yost: Today we’re in Mapleton, Georgia—it’s just outside of Atlanta—and we’re here at Packer Industries and Patterson Services. Ken Patterson, thanks a lot for talking to us today.
Ken: Thank you, Peter. What we do is manage construction waste for local building contractors. We decided to build a small machine that’s compact, easily transportable, that would do a variety of materials, and that would also get the metal out when it processed the materials.
P: So, you’ve got things like wood fiber—that takes a certain type of machine. And you’ve got things like bricks. It’s not easy to design a machine that can process things from cardboard up to concrete blocks.
K: Absolutely. It isn’t easy at all. You need something with really high torque.
P: So, we’re on the job site. We’ve rounded all this stuff up, including wood waste, engineered wood as well, solid sawn, and we’ve got gypsum board. So, what do we do with those materials?
K: The wood waste, first of all, can be used as erosion control. That’s a big savings for the builder.
P: Drywall is just about 93 percent calcium sulfate or gypsum, and 7 percent paper, so it’s a pretty good material to use as a soil amendment.
K: Oh, absolutely. It’s a very good material. And then when you finish with the wood chips and everything else, you incorporate all that back into the [unintelligible] and you have all the other cellulose that goes into it.
P: And how much of the waste stream by percent can we handle with onsite grinding?
K: You can actually recycle about 98 percent by volume.
P: That’s excellent. Taking materials that some people think of as garbage and using them as a beneficial use on the site, is that an easy thing to do [unintelligible]?
K: That’s not an easy thing to do at all, Peter. That has been a large hurdle. What we’ve tried to do in this state is do a lot of studies with the university and a few other people—US EPA—to show that you can use that material. We’ve also done studies with the state of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and even in other countries. A few other states like North Carolina have rules about waste. If you cut a piece of [unintelligible] off, that’s considered [unintelligible] and that has to go to a landfill by law.
P: So, when you say MSW, that’s municipal solid waste, and that’s a whole different animal than construction waste.
K: That’s absolutely correct.
P: Well, that’s just one more example of where green building may involve some rule changes, some code changes, so we can actually do [unintelligible]…the right thing.
K: That’s absolutely correct.
P: We just spent some time at your operations about 10 minutes from here, so I want you to tell me a little bit about how you practice what you preach.
K: These granite blocks came from an old railroad abutment.
P: I see some parallel beams here; you can’t tell me those are salvage.
K: Yes, those came out of a local apartment complex.
P: Lining the side of your driveway—more granite blocks.
K: All the granite blocks are salvage.
P: One of the keys to your business is that when people come to you looking for information, you provide it pretty readily because they turn into a customer if you do.
K: That is correct. That’s our business model here. We’re totally open. We provide anybody with any information they want about what we do.
P: It always turns into more business for you [unintelligible].
P: Well, Ken, I can’t n’t thank you enough for showing us your operations and even your own house.