As the Queen City’s downtown revitalization continues, it has seen the demolition of several old buildings and the construction of many new residential and office buildings. But with progress comes waste and the need to discard the old and new construction materials, which must go somewhere. Enter Revolution Recovery.

Originally started in Philadelphia in 2004, the company expanded to New Castle, Delaware in 2012 before opening its South Allentown location this spring when it purchased the former Mack Truck chassis plant on S. 10th Street. Revolution Recovery operates in about 80,000 square feet of the 10-acre site’s 265,000 square foot building and presently employs about 10 people.

“This location allows us to better service the tri-state area,” explained Plant Manager Brian Gordon. “Plus thanks to the revitalization taking place in the Lehigh Valley, and in Allentown in particular, it was an attractive place to be.”

Open six days a week, the site recycles a variety of construction waste including wood, metal, drywall, rubble (bricks, concrete), cardboard, plastic, ceiling tile, carpet, and more. There is a  list of materials on its website that aren’t accepted, including hazardous waste.

New use for a former Mack Trucks plant

Inside the cavernous former Mack Trucks plant, employees sort mixed materials into massive piles by hand and with front-end loaders. Construction and demolition debris are dropped-off  several times a day from roll-off trucks that have hauled it to the site. Hand sorting will eventually be streamlined with a picking line on a conveyor belt in the coming year as capacity demand increases. The site is currently processing 80-120 tons a day after just six weeks in operation, while the company’s other two sites process over 500 tons a day.

Trucks entering and departing the facility with materials for recycling by one of the company’s outlets are weighed on a newly installed truck scale to ensure they adhere to all road weight limits and to track daily tonnages.

Revolution Recovery can also track construction waste for a project, which is important for buildings applying for LEED certification. “The disposal of waste materials is an important component for those projects and we are able to track and generate a report of what materials came in and how they were handled,” said Gordon.

“It makes sense to recycle construction materials today,” said Gordon. “It’s just good business practice really. Otherwise, it would go to a landfill and most people are too environmentally conscious today to allow that to happen. So we try to make it as easy as possible to recycle it all. About 60-80% of new construction materials are recyclable, so why waste it?”