- New Jersey-based Pace Glass and the Reliable Group, along with their executive leadership, have been served with dozens of charges and code violations by Jersey City officials, as reported by NJ.com.
- The charges relate to piles of material, reportedly as high as 40 feet in some cases, that have been growing for months at a site leased from Reliable at 1 Caven Point Ave. Pace CEO George Valiotis characterized this as a breakdown in municipal relations, telling Resource Recycling, "I feel like we've been shaken down from the very beginning."
- While the charges do carry fines or potential jail time, Jersey City Chief Prosecutor Jake Hudnut told Hudson County View his first priority is to see the companies "get their site in shape" and "make it safe for people in the area to be outside" before exercising those options.
Pace Glass made a splashy entrance to the recycling industry in recent years, pledging to open the "world's largest" glass recycling plant in Andover, New Jersey. Amid a serious lack of end markets in the Northeast — following the 2018 closure of an Ardagh bottling plant in Massachusetts, among other factors — the company's promises have intrigued many.
Pace started taking in growing volumes of material ahead of a planned 2019 opening for its new Andover facility, but the timeline was delayed after financing negotiations with a European company fell through. Pace's original facility in Jersey City has been running only two days a week and is set up for clean bottle bill glass, not MRF glass. Some pre-screening had been happening offsite, but material began piling up as volumes became too great.
Valiotis said he was hesitant to disrupt new customer relationships and held off on stopping operations. Complaints from neighbors about air quality, as well as the potential fire hazard of material being near a highway, ultimately attracted attention from local officials. In addition to MRF glass, Pace was also storing fines and residual material. Now, the company has notified customers that it can't take new material for the time being and is focused on moving all Caven Point material offsite.
Valiotis estimates that all material will finally be processed within the next 12-14 months. As for the status of Pace's Andover facility, new financing has been arranged, and Valiotis anticipates initial concrete will be poured within a matter of weeks. If so, that would put the company on a new timeline to potentially begin operations in late 2020.
While the legal pressure is serious, Valiotis downplayed its effects on the company's overall trajectory.
"It's giving us more urgency to accelerate the construction and accelerate the building and opening of this plant," he said. "Financing is secured and we're moving forward."
Last year, Valiotis said he was looking at possible opportunities for new sites in California and North Carolina, as well as the Seattle and Chicago areas. Now, he says, that list has been narrowed down to California, Chicago and potentially Florida. Despite skepticism from some long-term industry players, Valiotis maintains that more buyers and customers alike will be ready to lock in long-term deals once the Andover facility is up and running.
"We're happy so far with how we've been treated and how we've been embraced by the industry," he said.
Arraignment for the case will take place in Jersey City Municipal Court on July 30.