Recycling the Brackenbox Inc. way

Recycling the Brackenbox Inc. way

In today’s eco-conscious world, it is more important than ever for construction companies to focus on recycling materials that once would have been considered waste. Not only will recycling efforts help boost the image of the company, they will also reduce any negative environmental impact of any projects. Based in Markham, IL, one company, Brackenbox Inc., has carved a niche providing specialist recycling services to construction businesses and communities alike, increasingly proving to be the specialist contractor of choice throughout Illinois and Wisconsin.

Established in 2008, Brackenbox Inc. is now seen as one of the most important recyclers of construction materials in Illinois and Wisconsin. Licensed as a recycler of waste by the City of Chicago, the company sees its mission to help construction companies process materials that were once seen as waste. When possible, they turn the material into valuable products for use on the same construction project or for resale.

Brackenbox believes that in today’s eco-conscious world it is more important than ever to maintain a “green” image with any waste recycling efforts helping to boost the image of the company and reducing any negative environmental impact on the world around us. From demolition to mining to deforestation, there are many environmental concerns that can surround construction projects, so it is beneficial to curb these effects by repurposing materials wherever possible. This desire is not only based on benefitting society – it also makes good business sense. Through helping to limit the amount of waste that accumulates inside landfills and reusing materials, what was once a cost (landfill, haulage, etc.) now becomes a revenue stream (soil, recycled aggregate, metals, etc).

Reasons to recycle

Brackenbox initially began business (and continues to this day) providing dumpster services. This now includes a highly professional demolition service and recycling operations, placing a great deal of emphasis on the use of recycling bins. As members of the CMRA, the company is dedicated to doing its part to sustain the environment. It is Brackenbox’s view that every business should give serious thought as to whether their current recycling policies are sufficient. This is not just construction materials, but applies to all aspects of business, including paper, plastic and metal recycling – not just being important for the environment but also for the business’s bottom line.


One of the most compelling reasons for businesses to recycle as much waste as possible is that it keeps it out of the landfill. As a result of the decomposition of organic material in landfills, landfill gas is released. About 50% of landfill gas is methane, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, and methane is a highly destructive greenhouse gas. It’s up to 36 times more effective at trapping heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide. “All businesses need to do their part to protect the environment,” said Jim Bracken, founder of Brackenbox. He continued, “Recycling nurtures a positive reputation for any company.”

Recycling programs are of benefit for a company’s reputation, with consumers preferring to do business with companies that have a positive socio-environmental image. If given a choice between a construction company that recycles as much debris as possible and one that doesn’t, the typical homeowner would likely choose the company that prioritizes recycling. “Consumers and clients aren’t the only ones who prefer companies with a strong environmental protection track record. A recycling program will also help your company attract top employees. Good pay is important to employees, but so is the company culture,” added Bracken. “Recycling can directly affect a business’s bottom line by reducing its waste disposal costs. The less waste you send to the landfill, the less you’ll pay in landfill fees. Plus, you may even earn money back on some recyclables.”

Chicago-based recycling center

Brackenbox now operates a recycling center in Chicago. This means that whether a business is working on a construction site, clean out or demolition project in Chicago, its roll off dumpsters can comprise a valuable component of the project, being ideal for removing waste for processing at the Brackenbox center. Through making the commitment to recycle, businesses are doing their part to protect the environment and preserve natural resources that will be an asset in future recycling projects. With Brackenbox’s Roll Off Service Inc., businesses can effectively recycle construction materials at its facilities serving Chicago and the surrounding suburbs.

“You might be surprised just how many construction materials can be recycled and repurposed to reduce environmental impact and create more sustainable construction projects before complete waste disposal. Drywall, for example, may be recycled for the gypsum it contains, which makes up about 90% of its weight. Recycled drywall can then be used to manufacture new drywall, produce concrete or as an additive in soil to improve drainage,” said Bracken.

Steps for successful demolition

A major source of materials Brackenbox recycles comes from the demolition of existing buildings and structures. Bracken explained, “Demolition is a necessary step in building removal or reconstruction. Before beginning demolition or renovation, making a few essential preparations will improve the experience while increasing safety and convenience during the project. During a demolition, part or all of a building is removed to make way for new construction or alternative use of the lot. In most cases, demolition is the fastest phase of construction, but there may be several steps involved in this process.

“Always check with your community to determine whether you need any permits for your excavation, demolition or construction work. Have these in hand before you begin your demolition. You’ll also need to ensure any utilities are properly disabled before you begin demolition, such as power, water and gas. Make sure to mark off the location of these utilities as well to avoid damaging lines or drains during the work. If your structure contains asbestos, you’ll need to schedule asbestos abatement as part of the demolition project. This may take extra time, so make sure to work it into your schedule.

“Once demolition is complete, you’ll need to schedule pickup if you rented a dumpster or recycling bins to contain construction waste. Make sure to separate any recyclable materials or request a recycling bin for added convenience. It’s essential to plan for waste removal. Whether you will be demolishing without rebuilding or are planning a renovation project, you will certainly have waste that must be removed from the site. Chances are your regular trash service won’t be able to handle it, so consider options such as a roll off dumpster rental and scheduled pickup to handle your project waste recycling – especially if you will have hazardous waste, such as asbestos, mercury or lead. You will need to make arrangements for their safe disposal,” Bracken noted.

Expertise and the right equipment

As can be seen, Bracken and his team at Brackenbox know what they are talking about. This expertise has enabled the company to provide a plethora of recycling services and hence, the company is very well thought of. “Brackenbox is serious about recycling and staying current with recycling trends. Along with the reliable service, that is what sold us,” O’Malley Construction Co.’s John Burns said. “We have used Brackenbox for many of our sites. They are very reliable, friendly and we like dealing with a family run business.”

However, it’s not just about expertise and excellent levels of customer service. “Construction and demolition projects require a large amount of equipment. Skimping on having the right equipment on hand can disrupt the timeline for the job and increase the cost, but getting access to everything needed on the site can be expensive. Brackenbox makes it easy to get the heavy equipment customers need for construction and demolition jobs with our fleet. We own and operate a huge fleet of heavy equipment designed to make the work on construction and demolition sites more efficient.

“Our fleet includes wheel loaders, rubber tire loaders, off road dump trucks, skid steers, track loaders, bulldozers and excavators. We have multiple topsoil fields, shredders, screeners and several different kinds of sorting equipment. By using our heavy equipment fleet, our customers can avoid the excessive costs of owning equipment without falling behind on the job you’re doing,” commented Bracken.

At the heart of the service

All of the above equipment has proven to be essential for Brackenbox’s operations; however, where the company really has derived competitive advantage is through its crushing and screening fleet. The fleet is supplied by Powerscreen’s dealer for Illinois and Wisconsin, Midwest Crushing & Screening Inc. The fleet now consists of a Powerscreen Warrior 1800, Powerscreen Premiertrak R400, Powerscreen Trakpactor 320SR, Powerscreen Chieftain 1700 and Powerscreen Chieftain 2100, among others. Through the use of the jaw and impact crushers material can be reduced, then scalped using the Warrior, and then sized accurately using the Chieftains to produce readily reusable products. Over band magnetic separators also enable metal to be removed from concrete.

A recent project undertaken by Brackenbox perfectly illustrates both the company’s expertise and the benefits of the Powerscreen crushing and screening equipment. “The problem Brackenbox faced was an increased amount of brick, concrete and asphalt in incoming materials while also having demand to deliver stone products to customers. The solution was scalping to separate concrete and asphalt from infeed materials by using a Warrior 1800 combined with a versatile set up to produce the stone products customers were asking for, using a variety of other equipment,” explained Joe Peters, sales manager, Midwest Crushing & Screening Inc.

“We also provide all of the service, support and application help for Brackenbox for any of the applications and machines. Jim has now gone from one screen in his yard to 11 machines from Midwest Crushing & Screening including conveyors. The Powerscreen equipment lends itself to many applications and making many types of aggregates. All of the equipment is designed to work with one another and all of the equipment can work on its own. Brackenbox has just one phone call to make for parts, service, application help and more machines,” Peters continued.

Productive set up

Peters further explained how the equipment is set up to be highly productive, producing the right fractions for Brackenbox’s customers. “The material is prescreened with the Powerscreen Warrior 1800, then processed with a hammer, then fed into Premiertrak R400 jaw crusher to reduce to 6-inch minus, then fed into Trakactor (impact crusher) 320SR to make 3-inch minus, then into Chieftain 1700 to separate 3 x 1.25-inch clean stone to make CA1, then into Chieftain 2100 to make 1.25 x 3/8-inch CA7, 3/8 x 2mm CA16, and 2mm minus to make FA6. The end use of the material is for builders requiring state spec materials for roads, foundations, back fill, drainage, etc.”

Midwest Crushing & Screening

Located in Crestwood, IL, Midwest Crushing & Screening has served the states of Illinois and Wisconsin since 2008. The Powerscreen and EVOquip (and other equipment) dealer prides itself in supplying the best in mobile materials processing machinery. The many services offered include a comprehensive rental fleet, knowledgeable sales staff, a large inventory of parts, an onsite service department and its own freighting services. “We like to think of every customer relationship as a partnership with Midwest Crushing & Screening, offering customers the most comprehensive range of mobile crushing equipment on the market today. Our customers are able to choose from our two brands (Powerscreen and EVOquip) based on project size,” added a proud Peters.

Bracken certainly believes he gets value for money both from the equipment and from the service the dealership provides in the form of advice and support. “Midwest Crushing & Screening’s service and support is unmatched. They are there before we are off of the phone with them. Their machines hold up to the elements and perform for us 24/7/365.”

All this means that when combined with his company’s expertise and know-how, Bracken honestly believes, “If we can’t do it, it can’t be done.” n


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