MARCH 2010

A Closer Look E-mail the author

Recycled Materials Company
Rick Givan • 303-431-3701

–Rick Givan

Rick Givan has been president of the family-owned Recycled Materials Company for nearly a dozen years. The company itself was formed about 30 years ago, and has since evolved into a business that now operates in 14 western states, predominantly in Colorado and California.

Those states, according to Givan, are big markets because there are military bases, shipyards and aircraft plants that are being redeveloped. The redevelopment of the Stapleton Airport property in Colorado was what Givan called a “classic example” of what the business does. Material that was on runways one week was being re-used as house foundation material a month later.

Before joining Recycled Materials, Givan had a background in the bridge and road building industry, but said he was “drawn into” the uniqueness of an industry where “you never do the same thing twice.” He explained that building one road or another is essentially the same, but that recycling is a constant challenge where every demolition job and every redevelopment project is different.

Recycled Materials accepts concrete and asphalt from contractors at its six Denver metro area recycling yards. There are also mobile plants that travel to customer locations where the aggregate is made onsite. “When we come to you, we charge a fee,” Givan said, “but we leave the material.”

Recycled Materials does demolition projects “hooked into a recycling assignment,” Givan said. He explained that the business is not about the demolition, but is all about re-using the materials. The company processes the concrete and asphalt and takes other recyclables to processors who specialize in those materials.

Since he started in the business, Givan has seen an increase in the acceptance of the products. “The market understands that the recycled material is the same in specification as quarried materials,” he said. Also, there has been an increase in applications, including concrete use “where that wasn’t accepted before”.

There is also a “dawning of recognition” that disposal of concrete in landfills is a waste of good material, and that it is needlessly taking up landfill space. “It’s gone from ‘this stuff is junk’ to being widely accepted,” he said.

He anticipates that eventually the states will have more uniform regulations for the use of recycled materials and that there will be some standard recycling specifications. For example, use of recycled materials in concrete is currently acceptable in Colorado, but is banned in other states.

There will always be some local differences, because local quarries provide different materials. Where one state might have a lot of limestone, another might have more granite, and the aggregate used in that area will reflect those local variations.

But no matter what the material, Givan said that states could save a lot of money by reusing the recyclable material taken from roadways, and could spend the money building more roads. Not only would money be saved by not needing to buy the material, but trucking costs are saved by keeping the material onsite.

Still, Givan finds that a lot of his job is education. “I’m a contractor and a recycler,” he said, and when he explains how recycling will help the customer avoid disposal fees, some customers wonder, “Why is this guy telling me this?” There is some skepticism that being “green” can save the customer money rather than costing more, as is sometimes the case.

Givan said that he often needs to tie all the pieces together for the customer – that while the recycled aggregate might be more expensive compared to other aggregate, there are no disposal fees for the old material, and no trucking fees to remove the old material or bring in the new.

Besides making aggregate, Givan explained that Recycled Materials can make a very diverse range of products. For example, concrete can be colored for use in landscaping projects or broken into pieces for use as stone for garden walls. Different types of breaking equipment is used to create a range of sizes of end product, depending on what the customer needs.

“We’re associated more with demolition,” Givan said, “yet our real claim to fame is re-use and redevelopment.” He said that he sees his business as “a window into the future,” rather than a company that simply tears down and recycles, because after the tear-down, the areas are redeveloped into something new. “It’s the renewal of the land.”