Houston-based Cherry Cos. has opened a recycling center in Hitchcock. The 14-acre facility won’t be taking in bottles and cans, but rather concrete, asphalt and asphalt shingles from demolitions.
“Out of 1,000 tons (of concrete,) you can probably do a mile and a half of road base,” Jim Mooney, a division manager for Cherry, said.
During the course of a year, that means more than 2,000 miles of road could have gotten its start at 5402 state Highway 6.
“I’m ready for them to start repairing them,” Mooney said.
Concrete is almost completely recyclable. It turns out, asphalt also is easily reused.
“About 10 percent of the roads that we drive on (in Texas) that have been laid in the last three years have been made of recycled material,” Leonard Cherry, president of the company, said. “That’s a wonderful transition. It’s brought down the cost of asphalt and the road life is the same.”
Old roofing shingles also end up under motorists’ tires.
“Five percent of the roads we drive on are made up of recycled roofing shingles,” Cherry said. “That product used to go into a landfill and (people) were paying to get rid of it.”
Opening up a recycling center in Hitchcock made a lot of sense for the company. The facility is it’s fourth and allows it to serve all quadrants of the Houston area.
“Recycling in Hitchcock helps us better serve our customers by bringing a recycling center closer to them,” Cherry said. “Overall, recycling preserves the natural environment by reducing the amount of concrete, asphalt, residential composition asphalt shingles and tires that are dumped in landfills.
“Then, when contractors use recycled materials in new construction, this reduces the amount of virgin materials that must be mined.”
Cherry’s company was founded in 1952, and it has evolved several times throughout the years. It began as a house-moving concern.
“Mom and Dad started the company in 1952, and they had four sons, so we were the crew,” Cherry said.
Moving houses eventually led to demolishing them. That evolution is not as odd as it might seem.
“Every time you moved a house, you had to clean up the debris that was left behind — the old garage, the sidewalks, the driveways, that sort of thing,” Cherry said.
The family then salvaged what it could from the demolitions.
“We call (house movers) the ultimate recyclers, because you don’t throw away anything,” Cherry said. “Even the foundation blocks the old house sat on, you reuse them.”
Cherry’s job was at the lowest level.
“My earliest memories as a boy are straightening nails, because we sold old, used nails,” he said.
Home demolition led to commercial work. In 1995, the company opened its first recycling yard. But, it wasn’t a complete change in direction, as the roots were established long ago.
“We were raised in the business from the standpoint of reuse and recycle,” Cherry said. “It’s always been a surprise to us what people will throw away.”
Next up for the company is recycling tires. In about a month, the necessary permits should be in place for the company to accept tires at the Hitchcock facility. The tires have a surprising use.
“The tires are used for fuel,” Cherry said. The (British thermal unit) value in one passenger car tire is equal to the BTU value of 3.4 gallons of diesel fuel. If we think in the terms of self-sufficiency, we’re kind of excited about that one.”