Alumni in the News

David R. Rawson – B.S., Accounting, 1996

Ogden Standard Examiner -- November 14, 2012
When David and Amy Rawson wondered what to do when their construction business slowed, they established a new — and high — goal. That goal was to help save Earth, while also saving the jobs of their employees. And, that’s how Recycled Earth was born. This new 10-acre business — which had its official ribbon-cutting in September — already has saved more than 20,000 tons of materials from entering a landfill since April. “Almost anything that would go to the transfer station, we will take here,” said Amy Rawson, owner and manager of the business. Once people start sorting their recyclables, she said, they are surprised to find out that much of their garbage can be reused. Recycled Earth is a recycling facility that specializes in construction and demolition debris, mainly concrete, asphalt, wood, plastics, shingles, cardboard and green waste. But it’s not just for big businesses. People who have sorted recyclable materials — which could range from green waste to glass, cardboard and wood — also may use the facility. Recycled Earth, at 3027 Midland Drive, looks upon entering to be a lot like the Weber County Transfer Station. But it is very different. Everything that goes into the facility is planned to be repurposed into a usable product. These days, trucks haul out repurposed construction materials almost as fast as trucks haul in waste. And every load buys a little time for the Tooele landfill, where much of the area’s garbage ends up. “The longer we can preserve that landfill (in Tooele), the better off our children and grandchildren will be,” Dave Rawson said. The Rawsons are members of the Construction Materials Recycling Association. The group focuses on improving efforts to recycle products throughout the country. And the two say their efforts are saving their customers money while saving the planet. A customer who was thankful for the money the Rawsons were saving him was Greg German, of Western Truck and Trailer. “It helps the local economy more than anything,” German said, noting the cost of hauling materials from the Weber County Transfer Station to Tooele, where it is buried. “The taxpayer savings are tremendous.” Dave Rawson said small trucking companies also face high costs when hauling their own materials to Tooele for disposal — costs he can save them. The Rawsons say they are motivated by the overwhelming cost to society of putting materials in landfills. “(We) plan to return the money that would otherwise be buried in our own landfills to productive revenue here in the Northern Utah area,” states a letter they send to municipalities and businesses. A study the Rawsons like to refer to documents the costs of dumping in New Mexico. The study, by the New Mexico Recycling Coalition, estimates that, in 2010, New Mexico residents buried $168 million worth of recyclable materials at a cost of $51 million. One incentive tried in New Mexico to reduce such waste has been to reduce charges for dumping recyclables if they are taken to a recycling facility instead of a landfill. The Rawsons are doing that here on their own, without government assistance. They point out that what they charge per ton to dump in their facility is less than what customers pay at the Weber County Transfer Station. They can charge less because they are able to sell their repurposed materials. But they hope to find uses for many more items. They are advocates for an incinerator in Weber County much like the one in Davis County that produces a lot of the electricity at Hill Air Force Base. They hope to continue to grow their business by offering more products and finding new ways to recycle, as well as to spread the word about what they are doing. But their growth is limited by the lack of knowledge people have of their business. “I think people get the idea that only government takes care of waste,” Amy Rawson said. “We want people to know that there is an alternative.” The Rawsons plan to offer more items to move the business beyond its current line of mostly construction components, fill materials and topsoil. “In the spring, we are hoping to have more landscape products,” Amy Rawson said. “We will have mulch and other decorative products.”