Lucas County, Ohio, has announced it will enter into an agreement with Closed Loop Partners to run a new MRF in Toledo that could be open by the end of 2025. Balcones Resources, which is part of Closed Loop portfolio company Circular Services, will be the operator.
The county will negotiate a contract with Closed Loop for receiving, processing and marketing recyclables, said Julie Riley, district manager of the Lucas County Solid Waste Management District. The terms are yet to be determined, but the MRF is expected to be a public/private partnership between Closed Loop and the solid waste district. Tetra Tech, an engineering consultant, will design the MRF, she said.
The MRF will help the city and county improve recycling systems and avoid having to ship material 90 miles away, officials said. Most recyclables first go to a transfer station near the site of the proposed MRF but then are trucked to a recycling facility in Oberlin, Ohio, run by Republic Services. The City of Toledo said having a local MRF could save the city between $8,000 and $10,000 per month in transportation costs. It’s not yet known how much it will cost to build and operate the facility.
Once complete, the MRF will process Toledo’s residential single-stream recycling, as well as material from the drop-off recycling program run by the county solid waste management district, Riley said.
Jessica Long, Closed Loop Partners’ chief strategy officer, declined to comment on specifics of the arrangement until an agreement is officially in place, but said Closed Loop is “excited and honored” to be chosen for the project. “We look forward to working with LCSWMD to create state-of-the-art recycling infrastructure to meet their needs,” she said in an email.
The partnership “will enable us to take a significant step forward in our efforts to reuse and recycle to reduce waste going into the landfill and increase sustainability in our community,” said County Commissioner Tina Skeldon Wozniak in a statement. “We can no longer rely on using landfills, and instead we must recycle as much as we can. It is the environmental thing to do.”
The MRF will be built on a 15-acre site that the county says has been mostly vacant since 1921, and parts of the land will need remediation before MRF construction can begin. The State of Ohio Brownfield Remediation Program Fund awarded Lucas County a $7 million grant to complete an environmental cleanup of a portion of the property, according to the county. Verdantas, an environmental and engineering consulting firm, will do the remediation design and implementation, Riley said.
The first phase of construction will consist of the MRF as well as an on-site education center. Future expansion plans could include adding composting facilities or capacity for other types of recycling, Riley said in an earlier interview in February.
Closed Loop Partners purchased a majority stake in Texas-based Balcones Resources in 2019 with a goal of building on Balcones’ existing portfolio by acquiring or building more MRFs. Balcones has since won MRF contracts in San Antonio and Phoenix.
In 2021, Closed Loop announced it would launch Circular Services, a privately owned recycling company, by bringing together existing Closed Loop portfolio companies including Balcones, Sims Municipal Recycling and others.