Saturday, September 6, 2014

Big player in New Jersey recycling closes its doors

A prominent Clifton-based recycling company abruptly closed its doors on Friday, informing more than 100 employees that they had worked their final day while dozens of North Jersey towns scrambled to forge temporary arrangements with other collectors, The Record reports.

Green Sky Industries, which promoted itself as the state’s largest private recycler with 75 municipal contracts, many in Bergen and Passaic counties, announced in a letter to towns on Thursday that it was shutting both of its plants, in Clifton and Carteret in Middlesex County. The company’s Clifton employees on Friday were given their final paychecks and a note on a quarter sheet of paper that explained the closure as a result of “declining business conditions.”
Green Sky workers being told that the recycling plant is closing.
James Escudero, 61, of Paterson after the news.

Richard Biondi II, the operations manager, said he learned about the closure early Friday. He paced back and forth outside of an office, sweat running down his face, before he went to break the news to the plant’s 76 workers at the end of their shift.

“I’m fighting back the tears,” he said.

After the announcement, office manager Mary Baez walked to her car with her niece Nilda Quinones, an office clerk. Tears welled in her eyes as she searched for the white paper slip that told her that time had ended.

“We regret the suddenness of this decision and thank you greatly for your service to the company,” the note said.

Company executives did not return emails or phone calls seeking comment on Friday. The closure was preceded by other layoffs, late payments to some towns and complications with China, a major importer of recyclables that last year rejected large quantities of material from U.S. companies because they contained too much regular trash.

Green Sky was a proponent of “single stream” recycling that permits residents to combine paper, cardboard, glass, aluminum and plastic into one container, rather than separating them. The process is designed to entice more residents to participate in recycling, and has become popular in Bergen County in recent years.

The Chinese crackdown, called the “green fence,” put financial pressure on companies such as Green Sky that purchased shipments from towns, separated the waste and then sold it to China. 

The company’s closing will come at a cost for several towns in Bergen and Passaic counties, where officials searched for alternative collectors in a hurry. Westwood’s borough administrator, Bob Hoffman, said the borough already had made arrangements with a company it contracts with to pick up recycling. But that outfit pays less for the materials than Green Sky, he said.

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