Cosmos business makes good things from the bad

When businesses have wastes they can't get rid of, they turn to P.E.C.E. Recycling in Cosmos. It is among four businesses sharing in state grant funds to develop markets for recycling. The Cosmos business takes what others can't get rid of to produce materials with value and jobs.

A semi-truck load of vinyl tape end rolls arrive weekly at P.E.C.E. Recycling LLC, in Cosmos. The company separates the vinyl and cardboard rolls and shreds them. The cardboard becomes livestock bedding while the vinyl becomes the raw material used in making vinyl hoses. Submitted photo

COSMOS — Donnie Hopp knows how to get rid of stuff nobody else can, and in a good way.

Which is why, every week, a semi-truck arrives at his Cosmos business to drop off 40,000 pounds of vinyl tape rolls. These are the end rolls, with a cardboard core and the remaining vinyl tape that could not be used.

Workers at Hopp’s P.E.C.E Recycling LLC separate the cardboard rolls and tape and shred it. The shredded vinyl is shipped to a company in New York that makes vinyl hoses from it. The shredded cardboard goes to a local farm for use as livestock bedding.

The vinyl tape arrives in Cosmos stacked into polypropylene drums, and Hopp and his workers make sure they don’t go to waste either. The drums are recycled into granulated plastics for further use.

Hopp and his workers will be busier than ever now, thanks to help from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.


P.E.C.E. Recycling LLC is one of four businesses in the state sharing $400,000 in newly awarded, recycling market development grants. The funds are aimed at helping innovative projects that increase markets for recycled materials and create jobs, MPCA Commissioner Laura Bishop told reporters in a conference call on Thursday.

Recycling represents $15 billion worth of economic activity for the state, and accounts for 36,000 direct and indirect jobs, according to Bishop.

Hopp anticipates creating 200 new jobs, thanks to the $91,165 grant and the equipment it helps acquire. It’s part of a $159,415 investment to expand operations.

P.E.C.E. employs people with special needs. It will be distributing some of the extra work to six locations in Southwest Minnesota that also provide employment to those with special needs.

“It provides special needs people with jobs, which is very important to me,” Hopp said.

Hopp is also excited about the benefits of turning waste materials into something of value. The company providing the tape rolls to his firm had been incinerating them. They turned to Hopp for help, knowing that he is able to make use of materials otherwise being discarded. Vinyl siding is among the materials he is able to recycle.

He is expecting to see more semi-truck loads of end rolls of vinyl tape. He’s recently been contacted by an Ohio firm interested in shipping their end rolls to him for recycling.

All four of the grant recipients are located in Greater Minnesota. The MPCA reports the other grant recipients and their project are:


Employment Enterprises, Inc. of Little Falls was awarded $51,945 as part of a total $69,164 project for equipment to convert glass for use as sandblast material. This project will convert 71 tons of glass to marketable sandblast grit in multiple sizes. At completion, the project will use 500 tons of glass per year and create 20 or more new jobs for staff with disabilities.

GreenForest Recycling, LLC of Brainerd was awarded $149,763 towards a $199,685 project for a paper-sorting system. This project transforms lower-grade mixed paper and newspaper from material recovery facilities that has often been landfilled or sold for low cost into more coveted paper grade. Initial start-up goals are 700-1,000 tons per month, increasing to 2,300-3,000 per month within a year.

Northfield Curbside Compost Cooperative of Northfield was awarded $104,124 towards a $130,156 project to expand organic waste collection, processing and availability.

This project will double the volume of collected organic compostable material from Northfield households that would otherwise go to landfills by doubling the number of subscribers. Collection is available to single-family housing as well as apartment dwellings not typically included in collection programs. Curbside Compost Cooperative will build a local processing site to compost waste material into a finished product totaling a volume of 1,600 cubic yards per year.

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