A new public-private partnership between University of Maryland Eastern Shore and a western-shore based recycling startup company proposes to solve some of Delmarva's most pressing problems.
With no incineration, leaving behind no waste or byproducts and in just 30 minutes, ReGreen's innovative recycling process transforms myriad smelly, germy substances into clean, sanitary, odor-free and marketable products: Fertilizers, compost, animal feed and fuel pellets.
According to co-founder and CEO Jeffrey A. Camera, ReGreen Organics handles organic items like chicken manure, food waste (including bone and meat waste), landscape clippings and wood, but it will also eventually process inorganic substances like discarded drywall, aluminum, nails, plastics and even glass.
Some of the end products include animal feed, fertilizer and compost, while others, depending on the material being processed, become fuel for electricity generation.
The 2-year-old Maryland company, founded on the state's western shore, recently entered into an agreement with UMES to pilot a new recycling process.
Camera said once it's up and running, each system installed will create six to 10 full-time equivalent jobs for local residents.
"In addition, this will create ancillary positions as well," said Camera, "in areas like marketing and accounting, mostly part-time positions. And it will provide internship opportunities through the university."
Lee Carey's family has farmed in Somerset County since 1905. He is excited about what ReGreen has to offer.
"The conventional way to till is to go down 12 inches," he said. "With this process, we can till the top three inches of soil and use pellets that are matched to each field, fine-tuned for things like pH by using soil samples."
Each system would be installed on a local farm, Camera said.
"The systems run 24/7 processing materials," he said.
The jobs would be full-time, permanent positions, many of them blue-collar jobs requiring operating equipment like loader skids or forklifts, sampling or sorting raw materials.
"We can process up to 200 tons of chicken manure per day," said Camera, "operating 20 hours a day, five days a week." ReGreen's processing units, which come in varying sizes, are relatively small compared to other recycling processes, Camera said. He plans to locate his processors off-campus, and is looking at local farms as potential sites for the first unit.
UMES is looking to become a zero-waste campus, said Gabriel Christian, a member of the UMES Board of Visitors.
"We are excited to become a leader in this," said Christian. "Everything originates in an idea." He said UMES aims to become a zero-waste campus.
In addition, a lot of agricultural waste is generated on the Lower Shore. It all needs to be dealt with, giving this partnership potential to result in a happy marriage of academics and real life.
The partnership between UMES and ReGreen includes a community educational component, as it will seek to educate children and their parents about the importance of recycling.
UMES will, in addition to serving as a research and educational resource, be a source of recyclable materials as it seeks to eliminate trash altogether from its campus.
The university will also gain opportunities for its students, as ReGreen will offer opportunities for students to learn, conduct research and produce white papers.
Local focus planned
Although the process originated in Howard County, Maryland, Christian and Camera are focused on keeping everything local.
All products will be sold locally, Camera said, and the company will hire area residents, providing training when needed by working with local schools and UMES.
"This is our first Eastern Shore venture," he said, "and we hope the Shore will become the hub for all our operations."
The Shore is full of raw materials that need to be recycled, and provides a market for the end products.
Camera said he expects to be up and running during the first quarter of 2018.
"Remaining local is primary to our concept, not exporting anything off the Shore," Camera said.
He said he hopes to establish a co-op where ideas and best practices can be shared.
"This means no trucks carrying our end products to a different part of the country," said Camera, "which can defeat the purpose by expending energy and creating pollution in the transportation process."
ReGreen will, he said, set aside a percentage of its profits to benefit the community, reaching out to local government to learn what unfunded needs can be met with the company's help.
"For example," Camera said, "scholarships for local students whose families are on a fixed income, by investing seed money with local banks and other professionals."Back to News