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7:45 AM Tue, Sept. 25th

Recycling company, landfill have 'symbiotic' dealings

In return, Mattera reduces the waste stream at the Kuhles construction debris landfill by 30 percent to 40 percent, Kelly said. Most of Mattera's business comes from Kuhles' waste stream.

"That's the beauty of the relationship," Mattera said. "It's a win-win situation."

Kuhles officials agree, noting that the "air space" in the landfill is Kuhles Services' largest business asset.

"It's a good relationship," Kelly said. "It's a good deal for both of us."

Despite aggressive recycling of wood, plastic, cardboard, metal and carpet padding for the past three years that adds up to more than 800 tons monthly, Kuhles is running out of room in the old Iron King Mine glory hole faster than co-owner Warren Kuhles anticipated.

Kuhles just received county government approval to expand its landfill, so the relationship with Mattera looks to have a solid future for decades to come.

The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality also has helped Mattera create a successful business. The department has awarded him two grants with money it gets from landfill surcharges around the state. Mattera has used one $100,000 grant to help purchase the baler, and a second $40,000 grant to buy recycling containers that he places around the tri-city region.

The baler cuts his costs by allowing him to fit more weight into trucks that haul the recycling materials to their destinations, thereby reducing the number of trips. The 2,000-pound baled bundles of plastic, for example, weigh about twice as much as his previous bales of the same size after the baler crushes the bags together using 2,200 pounds of pressure.

To help afford more equipment to make his business even more efficient, such as a machine to help sort through the materials that come into the landfill, Mattera has set his eyes on the next City of Prescott recycling contract. Volume is key to the recycling business, he noted.

Mattera bid on the city contract nearly four years ago when he was trying to start up his business, but Prescott contracted with the City of Flagstaff to use an already established firm in Flagstaff.

He feels confident that he can outbid the current Flagstaff contract because he's the only major recycling firm in the tri-city area, and because he wouldn't charge any hauling fees to the City of Prescott, which currently budgets $35,000 annually for hauling. The Flagstaff contract expires in December 2004.

Mattera said he also would help the local economy if he gets the city contract, by hiring twice as many as his current half-dozen employees.

And if the business doubles, he'd be able to move back to the community where he grew up. While his parents still live in Prescott, Mattera and his family still live in Los Angeles, where his wife works full-time at a job with good health insurance benefits for the children.

Contact the reporter at jdodder@prescottaz.com