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Recycling in the Root; Bitterroot Valley recycling business helps keep usable materials out of landfills, gives scrap new life

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Modern Recycling is a locally owned, family business, which opened for business in June of 2014. 

In the first two years of operation, it has diverted over six million pounds of recyclable material from landfills. These materials include items such as old refrigerators, car batteries, automobiles and aluminum cans.

Justin Quist is the owner of Modern Recycling in Victor.

“We accept a huge list of materials, which include almost anything metal or partially made of metal,” Quist said. “The recyclables we collect are sent to a mill where they are processed and made into more useful items such as I-Beams, fence posts and fencing wire and get reused right here in the USA.”

Quist said some of the reprocessed recycling is used in local Bitterroot businesses like Murdoch’s, D. J.’s Electric and Wimps Towing. Some of the “scrap” is sold locally for repurpose and reuse.

This fall Modern Recycling baled up about 800,000 pounds of scrap and had another large pile by December.

The business has a large scale on the north side of their building for trucks to pull up with their load, weigh, drop their load, then re-weigh. The business has a bailer that comes regularly and makes bales from scrap. Most of the recycling comes from a 30-mile area. Bricks of cars, washing machines, dryers and scrap wait for transport.

“We take anything made of metal and almost everything has some value,” Quist said. “We pretty much just break even on the refrigerators. We hook a pump to take out the Freon and there is a charge for that, so we try to charge as little as possible so people will bring them to us. We just charge the minimum to cover our costs.”

Modern Recycling has car parts for sale.

“We pretty much do anything we can to make a buck and stay in operation; the Bitterroot is kind of tough sometimes,” Quist said. “It’s been a bit of a struggle. After we bale it, we ship it to a shred center. It grinds these up to little chunks, like metal confetti. They go out on a conveyer belt that looks like an octopus with a magnet that pulls anything metal off.”

There are several shred centers but Quist said they ship most of their metal to Plymouth, Utah.

“NuCor Steele is a bar mill that makes anything long and skinny,” Quist said. “It’s interesting when you stop to think about it. It is recycled from here made into fence posts and comes back to a new use. You could get your own metal back in a couple of months.” Quist said.

Modern Recycling takes anything metal and pays based on weight.

“We take big, small, everything from equipment to microwaves,” Quist said. “We get everything: weed spreaders, cattle back scratchers, hay machines and all kinds of farm equipment.”

Sean Seltzer, general manager, said recycling is a service the valley needs.

“People were burying it in their yards and now we’re cleaning up the valley,” Seltzer said. “We are outsourcing the mechanics. We get calls and people stop by. We’ll sell them any part off any car.”

Seltzer said he has worked there nearly two years, avoiding the commute to Missoula, and enjoying working in his hometown.

“The coolest part is looking at the mountains, being outside and just helping the community out,” he said. “We got a lot of compliments by people who are happy we are here. We get a lot of donations which helps us stay here.”

Quist said that Modern Recycling is beneficial for the environment.

“It comes in today as junk and goes out tomorrow with someone new to appreciate it,” he said. “That’s about as good as it gets when it comes to recycling.”

Modern Recycling is located at 1359 U.S. Highway 93, just north of Sheafman Creek. For more information call 406-239-5188, email justin@axmen.com or visit their online sites: modernrecycling.net/ and facebook.com/modernrecycling/.

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