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The seeds for ECO Green Equipment were planted when Brad Swenson, along with several other partners, started selling promotional products. That grew into a business that manufactured patio furniture in Asia for sale in the US.

One of the partners, Andres Salazar, knew someone in South America who wanted to buy that type of equipment in China. One of the partners, John Porter, spoke Mandarin while Salazar and Swenson both spoke Spanish. “The owners cover two-thirds of the globe with those languages,” Swenson said, and they were more than happy to help a friend with the necessary translations to facilitate the purchase.

“We got a front row seat to the disaster of Chinese equipment,” Swenson said. “Lower prices don’t mean it will run.”

The three partners decided to get out of the furniture business and get into tire processing machinery. Swenson, Salazar, and Porter broke off from the furniture business, leaving it in the hands of other partners, and they brought on Ted Rogers, an engineer, as their fourth partner. Swenson said, “We decided that building in China is not what we want to do,” which was why they wanted an engineer on their team. They founded the company in 2009 in Utah, where they currently assemble their machines.

Swenson said that their machines are “designed from the ground up for tire recycling,” while similar machines are modified from machines built for other uses.

Swenson said that “what we did early on” was to focus more on end users than on the initial tire processors. He said they “built a machine that caters to what the markets are looking for,” rather than just taking a tire and making it smaller. The company strives to continue innovating to make their machines produce the best product for the end users.

Swenson said that the innovation and the ability to work on new things are what he most enjoys about his job. He also appreciates that his company creates jobs and benefits the local area.

The company manufactures five basic models, but they can be customized for individual customer needs. “Every market has its nuances,” Swenson said, with differences in materials, government programs, collection, and markets. “Costa Rica is very different than Chicago.”

The company sells two primary shredders, the ECO Monster and the ECO Green Giant; a secondary shredder, the ECO Grater; and the ECO Crumbler granulator and the ECO Krumbuster® hydraulic mill. “The ECO Krumbuster is what put us on the map,” Swenson said.

The ECO Krumbuster can process up to 16 mm chips and can produce 2 tons per hour of 20-mesh crumb, 1 ton per hour of 30-mesh crumb, or 1,400 pounds per hour of 40-mesh crumb.

While the ECO Krumbuster is popular with tire processing facilities, Swenson said that it’s becoming more and more popular with “people who are producing a finished product,” who buy, process, and use the crumb for their own use. He said that those customers want more control of the material that goes into their products.

The ECO Grater is a secondary shredder that “liberates the steel” from tire rubber so the resulting rubber chips are wire free. Swenson said that material is often used for mulch, tire derived fuel, and crumb rubber for playgrounds.

One major advantage of the ECO Grater is that it runs at 31 rpm rather than the much higher 100 to 350 rpm typical of other machines. Because of the much larger rotor and the increased number of blades on the ECO Green equipment, they make the same number of cuts per revolution as the higher speed machines, even at that slow speed. It can produce up to nine tons per hour of one inch chips.

Swenson explained that the advantage of the slower speed is that less heat is produced and there is less wear to blades.

The ECO Green Giant’s key feature is the patented blade design that uses a triangle shape around the rotor. This design means that the blades can be rotated six times before they need to be resharpened for an additional use. This design also “pulls the tire through really fast,” with little or no delay.

ECO Green sells their equipment worldwide, and recently sold “the first recycling solution for tires” in Costa Rica. Swenson is particularly impressed with the impact that one machine is having in that country. “They are eliminating tires in the rivers,” he said.

Swenson said that he sees more end uses for recycled tire materials, including rubber powder being used in thermoplastics and injection molded plastic items. Rubber is also being used in geomembranes, roof sealant materials and for other uses.

With the industry changing so fast, Swenson is particularly proud that his company has been on the leading edge of innovations. Now, many of his competitors are coming up with their own innovations, but he’s not worried about the competition. “It’s good for the industry as a whole,” he said.

Still, he’s not content to stay on a straight path. In the future, the company is “looking at a machine that’s for more than recycling.” We’ll have to wait to see what that is.

Published in the September 2017 Edition of American Recycler News