WHY IS TEMARRY RECYCLING LOCATED IN B.C. MEXICO?
This has become a common question asked of us here at Temarry Recycling, Inc. Even by people that have come to tour and audit our facility located just across the San Diego, CA border in Mexico.
What they see is a well-run, clean facility that is in compliance with the highest level of familiar U.S. regulations. By utilizing waste to energy equipment that generates steam to power solvent distillation equipment, the Green conscience observer sees a facility that meets a very high level of carbon footprint reduction and preservation of natural resources.
In order to understand the answer to the question of why Temarry is located in Mexico, a little background information is needed to set the stage.
What Happened Before RCRA & EPA Regulations
The state of California has one of the largest manufacturing bases in the United States. So why place this beautiful facility on the south side of the California/Mexico border? One would think that geographically there are more suitable locations such as Los Angeles in southern Ca or the Bay Area in northern CA. In fact, Matt Songer’s (owner of Temarry Recycling) grandfather actually operated a solvent distillation facility in Los Angeles area for over 20 years.
Like most business decisions economics is the driving force behind the motivation.
According to an EPA document entitled, Hazardous Waste Management Facilities in the United States, there were 9 commercial solvent distillation facilities in the state of California in 1975. I’m sure that there were more, but in 1975 there were no regulations so facilities were not tracked and monitored like they are today.
One such facility listed was for a company called Baron Blakeslee located in Belmont, CA (northern CA in the Bay area). Baron Blakeslee was a manufacturer of vapor degreasing equipment and single plate recovery stills. They also had distillation facilities in the Los Angeles area and in San Diego. Within 5-10 years after the implementation of RCRA regulations almost all of these facilities were closed down or seldom used.
Back in the pre-RCRA days there were two prominent business models for the management of spent solvents. Baron Blakeslee was primarily a solvent distributor that took back spent solvents as part of their service. They brought the spent solvents back to their local facilities on the same trucks that delivered new product to their customers. They recycled the solvent and then sold it again. It was a very efficient and profitable business model..
In the case of Matt’s grandfather he recognized the profit potential of taking unwanted spent acetone, then recycling it by distillation and selling it back into the market place.
The Montreal Protocol
Within 5-10 years after the implementation of RCRA regulations and the Montreal Protocol, almost all of the distillation facilities in CA were closed down or seldom used
Baron Blakeslee was also a major national distributor of halogenated solvents. As mentioned, they manufactured and sold the equipment, sold the solvent to the customers that they sold the equipment too and then took back the spent solvent.
They recycled the solvent in their own local recovery stills and then sold the solvent back to the same customer.
The 80’s and The Beginning of the End
In about 1985 the allegation was made, by well-meaning environmentalist groups, that halogenated solvents were eating up the ozone and unless drastic actions were taken we were all going to die of skin cancer and our crops would stop growing.
If we didn’t die of skin cancer we would starve to death. The industry fought it for a few years based on the science (or lack thereof). When it became mostly a political issue instead of a scientific issue the manufactures of halogenated solvents gave up the argument.
When the Montreal Protocol was established it sharply curtailed the amount of halogenated solvents that could be manufactured in the world. That part of the distillation business was now dead throughout the U.S.
What has been lost is the efficiency of local distillation companies. In the seventies and early eighties the distance to a solvent distillation facility in CA was less than 50 miles in most major manufacturing areas. Now, if you are a manufacturer in the Bay area of CA your nearest distillation facility is at least 700 miles away and will not be cost effective.
There is a company with a recovery still is southern CA but sources say that because of the stringent Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) regulations in CA, it is very difficult for them to sell the recycled solvent back into the market place.
In the days prior to the Montreal Protocol there was always an abundant supply of spent high cost halogenated solvents and more demand than could be supplied. Without distilling the high valued solvents it was not cost effective for a company to just distill the low value flammable solvents. It was much cheaper for generators to go directly to fuel blending and not utilize the environmental benefits of distillation first.
Standalone distillation companies were only in the business of taking in spent solvents and turning them into usable products to be sold back into the market place. This was an efficient process. The lack of proximity to market and the high cost of permitting has made this non-profitable in CA today.
What Forced Companies To Go Under?
Companies in this business started at a time when there were no environmental regulations. Companies went into business to provide a service that earned them a profit. For every 100 gallons of spent solvent they took in they produced about 80 gallons of clean product that could be sold back into the market place.
In the early 80’s RCRA regulations were beginning to be implemented. To operate a recycling facility you now needed something called a Part B Treatment Storage and Disposal Facility (TSDF) permit.
To get that permit it required an environmental impact report, air emissions permit and many more. In the case of Matt’s grandfather the cost would have been $750,000.
He, and others, elected to just close their doors. It was no longer cost effective to be in that business. The effect is the same today. If you decide that you want to start a distillation facility anywhere in CA, the cost of permits and operating a facility would be cost prohibitive.
Why Temarry is Located in Mexico
If a business cannot make a profit they will cease to exist or not start in the first place.
Temarry is located in Tecate, B.C. Mexico because it is efficient and cost effective.
To operate in Mexico it requires permits and an environmental impact report just like in CA. The difference is that the cost is reasonable. Temarry is welcomed, encouraged and appreciated by local, state and federal government agencies. They are recognized as an integral part of the environmental infrastructure.
Temarry began the recycling business in Mexico 18 years ago with hand me down equipment. Since that time, Temarry has upgraded its distillation equipment and has added Waste to Energy equipment in 1998.
Temarry just completed a new $100,000 Waste to Energy renovation in 2015.
At the beginning of 2016 Temarry will expand the site again by opening a water treatment facility on the same site. The regulatory climate and relative cost has allowed Temarry to expand and achieve higher and higher levels of sustainability and reduction of carbon footprint.
The regulatory climate in CA would never allow a facility such as Temarry to begin let alone expand. Conversely, the welcoming regulatory climate in Mexico has allowed the Songer family to continue what his grandfather began in 1950. Operate a business that provides valuable infrastructure that utilizes manufacturing waste to make a product that is sold back into industry.
If Temarry wasn’t there, where would your waste solvents and recyclable materials go?
Likely you would have to ship your good usable solvent waste across the country to be blended as a fuel source and forfeit the opportunity to reduce your carbon footprint and preserve the natural resources that we all have been given stewardship over.