SBDC
Pennsylvania Material Trader
Material Trader User Find Opportunity in Trash

Heinz Weverink believes that his strength as a materials broker is the ability to place "[the items] that are difficult to handle; the junk that nobody else wants." However, the success of his company, Leftover Recycling Services, demonstrates that unwanted materials are often anything but "junk."

Leftovers Recycling Services was established in 2001 as a small electronics recycling facility in Gettysburg, PA. While searching the internet for electronics a few years ago, Mr. Weverink found Pennsylvania Material Trader, an online material trading service that had been recently launched by the Pennsylvania Small Business Development Centers. The website helps businesses find markets for their leftover materials. Mr. Weverink logged onto Material Trader and found several electronics listings. He also noticed other items for which he thought he could find an end user. From then on, he began brokering connections between businesses, finding uses for materials previously discarded.

One of Mr. Weverink's first activities on Material Trader was to help broker a relationship between a Pittsburgh file folder company with 40,000 pounds of folder trimmings and a Canadian company dealing in recycled paper. The Pittsburgh company avoided sending the waste to the landfill, saving an estimated $1,080 in waste disposal fees*.

Another success came from a response to Mr. Weverink's post looking for used televisions. He was contacted by a Philadelphia area hauler who worked for a major electronics company, hauling away one trailer load (200-300 units) of scrap televisions per week. Mr. Weverink helped find at least two alternatives to the landfill for these electronics. Most of the nonworking units are sent to be recycled at a plant in New Jersey, while the working units are sent to Central America, rebuilt, and returned to the market. The electronics company is saving about $17,550 per year in avoided landfill tipping fees*.

Two recent exchanges facilitated by Mr. Weverink may result in long-term reciprocal relationships between Pennsylvania businesses. The first is between a window screen manufacturer and a builder of archery targets, both located near York County. Each business posted a listing on Material Trader; Mr. Weverink helped them find each other. The manufacturer sent an initial batch of wire screen trimmings to the target manufacturer, who found the wire to be effective in stopping arrows without damaging them. The businesses are now looking to move the target maker's operations onto the same site as the screen manufacturer, which will benefit both operations. The second exchange with long-term potential is between a battery insulation manufacturer located near Philadelphia, and a plastic lumber company located in Johnstown. An experimental trial proved fiberglass roving left over from the battery insulation process to be a favorable feedstock material in the production of plastic lumber. If these businesses can connect on an ongoing basis, about 20,000 pounds of fiberglass will be kept out of the landfill per month, saving the battery insulation manufacturer about $6,480 per year in avoided costs*, and providing the lumber company with a low cost, ongoing feedstock.

Whether a one time trade or an ongoing exchange, businesses across Pennsylvania have used Material Trader both as a source of free or inexpensive materials and as a marketplace for materials traditionally considered waste. To take advantage yourself, visit Material Trader today at www.materialtrader.org.

*Calculations are based on the estimated landfill tipping fee in Pennsylvania of $54 per ton.