Recycling green

Posted on Sep 1, 2011 :: Green Business
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Posted by , Insight on Business Staff Writer

Trudell shuttles pulp for the paper industry

Jeff Trudell’s an entrepreneur with a personal passion for “green.” Since he co-founded Valley Trucking LLC/Valley Transfer LLC in 2003 to serve the paper industry, he has focused the Green Bay transportation company on recycling and green technologies. The accomplishments so far have earned the company the 2011 Green Award from the Green Bay Area Chamber of Commerce.

“We’re trying to promote green recycling – just trying to save the environment,” says Trudell, who spotted a niche opportunity to move and store product for recycling mills while working for a couple of other area trucking companies.

Here’s how Trudell describes the company’s role: “When you put your recyclable paper on the curb, it gets taken to sorting facilities, where it’s baled by quality of paper. Valley Trucking first hauls the bales to recycling plants, where it’s dumped into pulpers, de-inked and turned into sheets of wet lap pulp that are stacked four to six feet high. Then, we move the wet lap to our warehouse for careful storage.”

As the name implies, wet lap must be kept at the right level of humidification and temperature so it neither dries out, nor molds. Eventually, the various grades of recycled pulp will be used by paper mills to create everything from toilet paper to hospital gowns to fine writing papers.

“Wet lap sheets are typically about 40 percent water,” says Trudell. “When paper mills would store them in their warehouses, the shelf life was one to two weeks. We’ve created two warehouse facilities with special ventilation and humidity systems that let us store and maintain quality for three to four months.” Valley Trucking plans to add another climate-controlled warehouse in the area this year.

Valley Trucking provides just-in-time service to its customers around the clock, 365 days a year. “We’ll be at Fox River Fiber in De Pere as many as 30 times a day and typically make 20 deliveries per day at Cellu Tissue (now Clearwater Paper) in Neenah.”

Overall, Trudell estimates the company carries about 2,000 loads per year. At 25 tons per trailer, they are moving – and protecting – some 50,000 tons of recycled fiber annually. They also make sure that every scrap of wet lap or paper in their process is recycled.

To make these trips environmentally friendly, Trudell and Valley Trucking have invested heavily in new green trucking technology. By early fall, six of their 10 diesel semi trucks will have been outfitted with a urea filtration system that basically eliminates carbon monoxide and turns their exhaust into water and steam. This costs $20,000 more per truck.

“We sacrifice some miles per gallon, but we’re hoping that marketing and promoting our green-ness will offset some of that cost,” adds Trudell.

Because Valley Trucking works with wet, heavy materials, it has received special permits to carry 90,000-pound loads instead of the usual 80,000, as long as the contents are 100 percent post-consumer-recycled pulp. This cuts down the number of trips, but also requires investment in reinforced floors, special brakes and a ventilation system for the trailers that keeps the wet lap fresh.

Greg Archambault, CEO of Fox River Fiber in De Pere, speaks highly of Valley Trucking and Trudell.

“We helped Jeff get started and have been with them since day one,” Archambault says. “They shuttle our pulp to a fair number of customers. And warehousing the wet lap for us more than doubles our capacity.

“We’re also excited about seeing their improvements,” adds Archambault. “Several of our customers are very interested in emissions issues, so what Jeff has done is beneficial to us, to our customers, and the environment.”

Another large Valley Trucking account is Clearwater Paper of Neenah. “I can’t say enough about their service,” says John Knaack, manufacturing planner/pulp coordinator. “If I need anything, I just call them and they take care of business. We make tissue for a supplier that’s very green, so we appreciate where they are going with that, as well.”

Trudell’s passion for green spills over into his auto-racing avocation, as well. He races about four times a year at the semi-pro level, and just recently took delivery of a 2005 Ford Mustang that has been converted to run on 96 to 97 percent pure ethanol, which he premiered at Road America in August.

Ray Kopish, vice president of member services for the Green Bay Area Chamber of Commerce, is impressed with what Trudell and Valley Trucking have accomplished.

“There’s a vital trucking and logistics industry in the Green Bay area, and Jeff had the vision to see an opportunity,” says Kopish. “He’s both an aggressive partner, and progressive. We expect to see even greater things in the future.”

Photo by Rich Redman