Plant City company converts trash into fuel for other industries

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A new manufacturing facility in Plant City is putting trash to good use by turning it into a fuel alternative for companies.

MLMC Florida takes thousands of pounds of trash from retail, manufacturing, and industrial businesses and converts into cubes to be used as a fuel alternative for power plants, paper mills, and more.

“We're not just taking the styrofoam, the bubble wrap that people have a difficult time recycling for many reasons. We're taking things that nobody ever thought to recycle,” said Jim LaDue, the chief operating officer for MLMC. “So, our customer out here is in the cement manufacturing business, and they use it as a coal substitute to generate heat for their process.”

LaDue said they work with retail stores like Rooms To Go and Williams-Sonoma to get rid of packaging.

“They'll deliver furniture, new, in boxes to their customers. They come in and actually set the furniture up and all that packaging, and it's a tremendous amount, comes back through the William-Sonoma network. They recycle what they can and, what they can't we take that from them,” said LaDue.

Then it's shredded and packed into cubes that are four inches or smaller, ending up in a trailer for a truck to haul to a company instead of a landfill.

“We're getting rid of all the junk that's going to pile up somewhere, but it's making something useful out of it,” said Carl Grooms of Plant City.

Strawberry farmers Carl and Deedee Grooms sold the land the facility sits on, and they want more businesses to find sustainable options like this one.

“I would like to see more of that kind of thing happen where anybody that has a business could send their product here and have it recycled. I think that would be awesome,” said Dee Dee Grooms.

LaDue said he hopes to make that happen, with plans to expand across the U.S.

“It's necessary and if we don't change now, problems are just going to get even worse,” said LaDue.

MLMC Florida does not take trash from mom-and-pop shops, instead taking trash from large companies that produce a lot of trash. LaDue said it’s an expensive operation, but it’s worth it because of what it does for the local community, Hillsborough County, and the state.