| February 4, 2013
Hatteras Recycle: Green business is good business
If you’ve followed the news at all this past decade, chances are you’ve heard something about global warming.
By JORDAN TOMBERLIN
seems to be some confusion about exactly what global warming is. Is it
a naturally occurring climatic phenomenon? Is it the scourge of human
civilization? Is it an elaborate hoax orchestrated by Al Gore because
he’s still angry about the 2000 election? One thing most people seem to
agree on is that the health of our environment is critical, and we
should all be pitching in to take better care of it.
news is that, if Todd Phillips’ Rodanthe-based recycling business,
Hatteras Recycle, is any indication, the residents of and visitors to
Hatteras Island are ramping up their efforts to help.
more people than ever before have signed up for Hatteras Recycle’s
services, and Phillips is making some big changes to his company in
order to meet the large increase in demand.
“This year,” he said, “things have to change—everything from the method of collection to what we do with it.”
Phillips started Hatteras Recycle in 2007, it was a small, home-based,
one-truck operation, born out of a genuine spirit of service and
stewardship. Phillips was just walking through his neighborhood one
day, and he noticed that every garbage can he saw was brimming with
He contacted the county for information about
recycling collection programs, and when he learned that there weren’t
any, he began working with the county officials to create one.
he got a grant from the North Carolina Department of Pollution
Prevention and Environmental Assistance (DPPEA), and he launched the
project, targeting the island’s rental-home market by lobbying property
management companies and rental home owners to pay for curbside pick-up.
few of them agreed, and in its inaugural season, Hatteras Recycle
serviced about 150 rental homes in the tri-village area. Phillips and
his crew provided the bins and collected the items, and the Dare County
Recycling Program hauled off the collected recyclables.
The results were promising.
company collected a staggering amount of recycled goods—more than the
average tonnage for a 1,000-home residential area—with plastic and
aluminum beverage containers comprising most of the waste.
In other words, they collected a massive amount of empty water bottles and beer cans.
one point, Phillips said they collected more than 500 beverage
containers from a single house, which had accrued for just one week.
the end of that first year, Phillips was starting to think bigger. He
had always hoped the service would eventually encompass all the
villages, and he began working toward a goal of mass rental-home
participation and curb service for the entire island.
It didn’t take him long to get there.
rental market was really the driving force behind the expansion. Guests
and homeowners from towns and cities that offered comprehensive
recycling programs—who were already used to recycling their
goods—wanted to have the same opportunity while on vacation.
and more homeowners decided to “opt-in,” and within two years, Hatteras
Recycle was servicing all of Midgett Realty’s homes, island-wide, and
was regularly getting requests from other property management companies.
it wasn’t just out-of-town homeowners. Between the increased visibility
of the company’s recycling bins outside rental homes and Phillips’s
attempt to provide free recycling services at all the island’s major
community events, local residents and homeowners had started requesting
the service as well.
the end of 2009, Hatteras Recycle was servicing more than 700 homes,
all over the island, with new requests coming in so fast that the
company literally couldn’t keep up.
Phillips added more trucks
and more employees to keep up with the increase in demand, but aside
from that, much of Hatteras Recycle remained the same. Phillips still
ran the business from his home, he still used flat-bed trucks for
collection, and the material collected was still hauled off by the
“We’ve just been coasting along these past three years,” Phillips said, “just managing with what we have.”
But that’s all about to change.
year, Hatteras Recycle was awarded a contract to service all of
Hatteras Realty’s rental properties—all 560 of them. On top of that,
he’s going to start collecting recycling from restaurants, which are
required to recycle by state law, and he’s expanding his business to
include condo units and some additional private residences.
In order to accommodate the new demands, Hatteras Recycle is getting a facelift.
“[We’re] incurring $200,000 worth of infrastructure costs to retrofit the next phase of growth,” Phillips said.
new developments include the purchase of 1,100 new bins and 550 new
roll carts, the construction a large warehouse facility in Salvo that
will serve as both a depot for collected material and the new
headquarters for the business, and a new compacting truck—which will
essentially be able to do the work of two or three regular trucks.
a different type of recycling when you’re dealing with large rental
homes,” he said. “One of our challenges has been dealing with that kind
Phillips estimates that the additional contracts
will increase the company’s weekly tonnage by about 35 to 40 per cent,
which means that, in addition to finding new ways to collect that much
material, he will have to find new ways to get rid of it.
will continue to work with Dare County, but we can’t give them
everything we’re collecting,” he said. “There’s no county
infrastructure to deal with the tonnage we’ve got.”
said they would likely end up storing much of the recycling at the
warehouse facility and working directly with a materials processor to
come and pick it up.
Another change Phillips would like to
implement is an expanded season. Currently, Hatteras Recycle operates
more or less in sync with the peak tourist season, running on a
six-month schedule with service from May 1 to Oct 30. Phillips said
that by 2014, he would like to get closer to an eight-month season,
extending service from Easter through Thanksgiving.
the bulk of Hatteras Recycle’s revenue (and recyclables) come from
rental houses, their services are available to island residents. In
fact, the large realty company contracts mean that Phillips is able to
work with locals directly, offering recycling pick-up for a nominal fee
and on a flexible schedule.
And when it comes to his business,
that’s one of Phillips’s biggest points of pride—that, and the fact
that he is able to employ 12 Hatteras Island residents and pay them a
And in the end, it’s nice to know that, even if we
can’t save the world from the inevitability/threat/hoax of global
warming, we can at least preserve our local environment and bolster our
local economy—just by putting some of our garbage in a different can.
For more information, contact Todd Phillips at (252) 987-2810 or [email protected].