With the recent acquisition of two construction and demolition (C&D) landfills in Knoxville, Tenn., Meridian Waste is continuing its strategic plan to diversify its portfolio and enter new geographic markets.
The acquisitions of the Poplar View and Riverside C&D landfills are the Greensboro, Ga.-based company’s first entry into Tennessee.
“We are continuing to focus in this new marketplace and using these new assets as a springboard for other acquisitions in the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic regions. We are migrating south and east because they are markets we're familiar with. And it’s where population growth is,” says Mary O’Brien, chief marketing officer for Meridian.
Moving into Knoxville made business sense. Its population is growing. Its economy is strong, especially within the construction industry. And the two facilities are strategically located, filling a gap in a region with limited resources.
Both sites are within 8 miles of the city center of Knoxville, while the next nearest permitted C&D facility is located 27 miles away, with very limited remaining airspace.
C&D facilities are typically less expensive investments than municipal solid waste operations, between landfill construction, operations and regulatory requirements. And there continues to be a strong need for this alternative disposal option in expanding communities, like Knoxville, where customers will include the city, Knox County, the Knoxville Utility Board, private contractors, demolition companies and do-it-yourselfers (residents).
There is no full C&D processing line in Knoxville, though Meridian will recycle materials readily identifiable when it makes economic sense and where there are local markets, says Dave Lavender, COO of Meridian Waste.
“We will process and/or recycle when applicable and bury remaining C&D waste materials. What we will recycle includes concrete and tires as well as some inert materials like ground wood used for slopes or for road construction,” explains Lavender.
Local third-party vendors will transport, broker and sell recyclables for beneficial reuse.
For years, Knox County has separated and compacted residential C&D (such as home modeling supplies like lumber and drywall) at drop-off centers that also accept other household materials.
Construction materials move on to a C&D landfill where the county pays $17 or $18 a ton versus $23 to $24 a ton tip fee at a municipal solid waste landfill.
In 2018, the county sent 12,000 tons of C&D to Poplar View, saving $64,800 in tipping fees.
Meridian’s acquisitions will provide additional opportunity to the region, says Drew Thurman, Knox County solid waste director.
“Meridian will install scales at Riverside. This will give us another place to send loads, as before [Riverside] only charged by volume. So, we were only shipping to Poplar View as Tennessee asks counties to report waste in tons. You can convert volume to tonnage, but we prefer reporting actual numbers, as it’s more accurate and it’s what the state is asking of us,” says Thurman.
Poplar View and Riverside landfills will accept appliances (without compressors), asphalt, cardboard, common construction material, dirt, rock, concrete, furniture, metal, paper, shingles, roofing materials, wiring, brush and other landscaping waste, carpet, flooring, drywall, insulation, non-friable asbestos, plastic and wood.
Meridian Waste’s other recent business transactions have been the acquisition of Jacksonville, Fla.-based Partner Disposal shortly after securing a franchise in Nassau County. Last year, the company acquired waste businesses in the greater Blacksburg/Christiansburg, Va., area, and it will begin construction of a materials recovery facility in that region in May.
“Under Wally Halls’ leadership, we have grown Meridian into a privately owned, regional player in collection, processing and disposal,” says O’Brien, who worked with Lavender and Hall at Advanced Disposal, building it from three to 3,000 trucks, before coming together to launch Meridian.
Of the company’s most recent transaction, O’Brien says, “While we have municipal solid waste landfills, we think there is a viable need for safe C&D. If a growth opportunity is there and it fits our strategy, we will go after it.”