Sustainable Waste Management

Action Environmental Services
Written by Claire Suttles

Action Environmental Group provides customers with innovative waste management and recycling solutions through its subsidiaries Action Environmental Services in New York City and Interstate Waste Services in Northern New Jersey and lower NY state. The company delivers a complete solution, from collection and recycling to composting organic material and disposal.
Sustainability is at the core of all Action does, driving the company to become an innovative market leader in green initiatives.

Action enjoys a diverse range of industrial and commercial customers, including restaurants, hospitals, medical clinics, building contractors, retail stores, malls, universities and colleges, K-12 schools, stadiums and investment banks. The company’s Goldilocks size – not too big and not too small – ensures that these customers’ needs are met. “We are big enough to do what the big companies do, but small enough that you can to get me on the phone,” says CEO Ron Bergamini. “With the large companies you don’t always get a name of a person, a go-to person. With your smaller companies, people are overwhelmed; they’ve only got one person [to talk to]. So we really like the niche that we fit.”

The environment is always a priority at Action. The company has been recognized by leading environmental organizations in the metropolitan New York area, is a founding member of Global Green’s CORR, and is a member of the Green Committee of the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce.

One of the company’s most significant environmental contributions is its commitment to recycling. In fact, Action’s material recovery facility (MRF) is changing the way New York recycles. Located in the Bronx, the state of the art, 100,000 square foot facility has special machinery to sort recyclable material and identify waste that should not be in the mix. “Because, as much as everybody thinks that they do a great job separating cardboard and paper, they don’t,” Mr. Bergamini points out. “They are well-intentioned people, but it is a challenge.” And inevitably, non-recyclables find their way into the recycling bin. “Every now and again you accidently throw a cup of coffee or an apple in there.”

Action’s MRF has the unique ability to pull out these cups of coffee and apple cores to save the recyclable materials. “Even though we prefer folks to source separate, we have, in effect, created a third class of waste.” In addition to loads of garbage and loads of recyclables, the MRF can accept loads that contain both garbage and recyclables. A leading edge, $15 million system sorts through the mix, allowing Action to recycle as much material as possible.

First, a bag ripper tears open garbage bags filled with recyclable materials. Next, a team of employees manually pulls non-recyclable material from a conveyor belt. The remaining mix of materials passes through five optical sorters. These sorters use infrared technology to detect and separate all seven grades of plastics, white paper, mixed paper, and cardboard. Action’s RedWave NIR/C’s near infrared technology can recognize a remarkable assortment of materials, distinguishing between color printed and non-printed cardboard, catalogues, newspapers, magazines, plastics, and more.

Action Environmental Group earned recognition at the Global Green Sustainable Design 14th Annual Awards for the opening of the ground breaking MRF, which has enabled the company to significantly increase the volume and diversity of materials it recycles citywide.

The NYS Department of Environmental Conservation recently passed legislation to regulate the disposal of light bulbs that contain mercury. The new law requires any business, institution, or university with more than 100 employees, or with more than 15 hazardous waste lamps going into the trash each month, to safely and properly dispose of the materials.

Action is doing its part to safely recycle Mercury Containing Lamps and help New York City adhere to the new law. The company’s BakPak™ Pre-Paid Recycling Program eliminates a customer’s liability while implementing a trusted universal waste program. Documentation is available online and the company emails the certification needed to prove compliance.

Action is also at the forefront of composting. The company is one of the few solid waste collection businesses to offer an organic composting program throughout the New York City area. And, Action is the only one of these companies with specially designed, self-contained, leak-proof vehicles, which allows the team to pick up organic waste in the cleanest, quickest, and safest way. The program is important because removing organic materials from the waste stream reduces the amount of garbage going to landfill and reduces CO2 emissions.

Action is also environmentally responsible with its fleet. Eager to go the extra mile to reduce emissions, the company has a plan to replace a large portion of the fleet’s trucks by 2020 in accordance with a NYC law that Action supported. The company’s fleet already has a reputation for being state of the art. Each truck is meticulously maintained – a fact that has been recognized at the Diesel Truck Nationals multiple times.

The team is eager to remain at the leading edge of the industry. “Apathy is the enemy,” Mr. Bergamini remarks. “You have to keep moving and reinventing yourself.” Always eager to adopt the latest technology, Action is in the process of installing onboard computing in all of its vehicles. “Essentially it is a smart truck.” Supplied by Routeware, the fleet management solution, “will allow us to know where a truck is at any given moment, how long it is stopped at a given moment, and how long it is idling, which will help us with emissions and pollution. It will tell us if a driver is riding on the brake or if someone is outside of the area where they are supposed to be.”

Action is getting a head start on the innovative solution. “We believe it is the future,” Mr. Bergamini says. “Other companies in the country have done it but, as far as we know, we will be the first company [of our size] in this area to do it. Implementation will require a significant investment upfront, but the team believes it will pay off quickly. “We have traveled the country and talked to people who have done this and they say, ‘I don’t know how we did things before.’ We are very excited about it. I believe in ten years every truck in the country will have something akin to this.”

Action’s eagerness to embrace technology and its commitment to the environment has created a winning formula for success. With a groundbreaking MRF and reliable programs for mercury recycling and composting, the company has earned an enviable reputation as one of New York City’s most trusted waste and recycling service providers.



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