Rochester Recycling opens on South Street

Community recycling center accepts metal goods, shreds documents, wipes hard drives

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published October 10, 2012

ROCHESTER — That broken metal fan and rusted lawn furniture collecting dust in the basement could earn you some cold, hard cash.

Rochester resident John Hawthorne and his business partner, Matt Ulewicz, who are both long-timers in the recycling business, recently opened up a community recycling center called Rochester Recycling at 379 South St.

Throughout the last three or four years, Hawthorne said, the pair has developed a vision of what a community recycling center might look like, which, they believe, is different from anything else in the market.

“We are trying to do something different. In essence, we are trying to change hearts and minds and make recycling everything as easy as possible, to redirect the flow of these valuable commodities from the landfill to the recycling center.”

Rochester Recycling is not meant to compete with the community-wide curbside recycling programs in Rochester and Rochester Hills in any way, programs which Hawthorne said are “fantastic.” Instead, it was created as a way for residents to recycle the items that curbside won’t.

“We’re huge proponents of curbside recycling and we encourage everyone to use curbside recycling as much as possible, but we’ll take the stuff that doesn’t work for curbside,” he said. “Our job is to serve the community and provide a safe and effective way for them to dispose of the materials that have reached the end of their useful life.”

Rochester Recycling gives residents and business owners the chance to recycle more than 300 types of metal — such as aluminum, brass, copper and steel, to name a few — oftentimes, in return for cash.

“Many people don’t want to throw this stuff in the garbage — an old barbeque grill, old deck furniture, old metal chairs that they know nobody wants to buy in a garage sale, old water tanks and furnaces. We like to say we take the stuff that’s not good enough for a garage sale, but too good to throw away. That’s where we fit in,” he said.

Everything has a useful life, according to Hawthorne, but when a product’s useful life is over, he wants to assure as much as possible goes to recycling and as little as possible goes to the landfill.

“If you can sell it in a garage sale, or repurpose it, or continue to use it how it was intended, by all means, do so. … But if that’s no longer possible, then we think we are the best option, because we’ll take the metal and recycle it and make sure it gets reused again,” he said.

Residents can drop off everything from aluminum siding and fencing, copper pipe and wire to brass faucets and door handles, gutters and kitchen sinks, as well as appliances, batteries, fans, lawnmowers, grills, lawn furniture, aluminum rims, extension cords, Christmas lights and more.

“If it has steel or metal on it, we can recycle it,” Hawthorne said. “I’ve seen everything. We’ve had crashed airplanes, boats, even a suit of armor come in. We compensate people for the materials that they have, and then when we get enough of the material, we can ship it off to what we call the melting mills, so any copper that we ship off will go back to a copper smelter or aluminum smelter and be reused.”

Rochester Recycling is not a hazardous waste center, so items with mercury or lead, computer monitors, old TVs, old paint cans, and other hazardous materials are not accepted.

Rochester Recycling also serves as a free drop-off center for household batteries and provides document and hard drive shredding services for computers and iPhones, for a fee.

“Identify theft is on the rise. We’re here to give you piece of mind and make sure that nothing will ever be taken from you,” said Ulewicz.

Rochester Recycling, 379 South St., is open 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday and 7:30-11 a.m. Saturdays. For more information, call (248) 841-8531 or visit www.rochesterrecycling