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One man's trash....

Saline County Company Recycles Waste For Use By Cement Industry

This is the second in a three-part series on Arkansas companies that are taking advantage of the increased environmental interest of the 1990s. The public is demanding cleaner air and cleaner water. Corporations are having to spend millions of dollars to meet state and federal mandates. But there are some businesses making money as the environmental movement gains steam. This week, Arkansas Business profiles three more of those businesses.

Did you know the cement industry is one of the leading energy consumers in the United States?

Chances are you didn't.

But Craig Harper can tell you all about it.

Harper is chief executive officer of Rineco at Haskell in Saline County. The company processes wastes so they can be used in cement kilns.

Harper can spout off statistics about the cement industry and his company's role in helping that industry conserve fuel.

He tells you, for instance, that more than a ton of concrete is used per person per year worldwide. He claims that figure is closer to two tons per person in the United States.

Oil and coal are the fuels usually used for cement kilns and other industrial furnaces. Although there can be a 100 percent substitution rate with the waste fuel Rineco produces, Harper says companies usually mix coal or oil with the recycled wastes to more easily obtain the correct carbon-hydrogen ratio.

Even with a substitution rate as small as 15 percent, a typical kiln can save 12,000 tons of coal or 50,000 barrels of oil per year.

Nationally, the burning of waste fuel by the cement industry saves 168 million gallons of oil and a million tons of coal each year.

Industrial furnaces can be used as destruction sites for both liquid and solid hazardous wastes. The Environmental Protection Agency chose cement kilns, which operate at temperatures of up to 2,900 degrees, as one of the best sources for completely burning hazardous wastes.

Rineco processes a variety of hydrocarbon-based hazardous wastes. They include flammable solvents, paints, washes, resins, cosmetics and printing inks.

Unlike many waste recycling companies, which process only liquid wastes, Rineco can handle sludges and even solids such as rags, towels, empty containers and rubber boots.

"Our whole emphasis here is to keep materials out of our streams, lakes, rivers and our land," Harper says.

Legitimate Waste

Rineco picks up wastes from companies across Arkansas. The companies range from small body shops to major corporations such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc. of Bentonville.

Rineco isn't in the business of cleaning up hazardous waste sites. But companies such as Spiltech Services Inc. of Little Rock deliver some of the waste they collect to Rineco.

The federal government has placed most liability on the generators of waste. The waste generators remain responsible even after they have disposed of their wastes through companies such as Rineco.

Because of such regulations, the number of disreputable waste recycling companies is shrinking, according to Harper.

"What you want to do is be sure your material is picked up by someone legitimate," he warns business executives.

Those who have paid Rineco to take their hazardous wastes can often be seen inspecting the company's plant 35 miles southwest of Little Rock. The facility is a 30,000-SF complex that resembles a warehouse with a steel roof and steel floor.

Once Rineco processes the waste, it sells 90 percent to the Ash Grove Cement Co.'s Foreman plant.

Harper won't disclose company revenues, but he says Rineco has been able to turn a small profit. All profits are plowed back into the company.

John Whitney, Rineco's vice president of research and development, founded the company in 1987 with less than 20 employees. Rineco now employs about 200 people with 120 working at the Haskell facility.

Harper expects Rineco eventually to be a player nationally in the waste recycling industry. There are major competitors in Dallas and Memphis, Tenn.

Harper says the central Arkansas location is ideal. There was a large pool of workers to choose from because of layoffs by Reynolds Metals Co. and Aluminum Company of America.

Rineco also has been able to attract native Arkansans back to the state with high-tech jobs. Larry Williams was a senior scientist for quality assurance and control at Westinghouse Electric Corp. He jumped at the opportunity to come back to Arkansas and work for Rineco.

Harper says scientists such as Williams are anxious to work for a firm that has a positive effect on the environment.

Even though the explosive growth period has ended, Harper expects steady revenue increases as corporations attempt to meet more stringent environmental regulations.
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Title Annotation:Corporate Conservation; Rineco recycles waste to be used by cement industry
Author:Rengers, Carrie
Publication:Arkansas Business
Date:Feb 17, 1992
Previous Article:The Clinton corps.
Next Article:Recycling risks.

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