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DVGBC Revolution Recovery Tour

On Thursday June 4th, DVGBC organized a tour of Revolution Recovery’s New Castle, Delaware facility, which drew a crowd of over 40 individuals comprised of environmental engineers, contractors, construction industry professionals and other DVGBC members looking to learn more about large-scale recycling and take advantage of the 2 GBCI CE hours, and 2 AIA HSW/LU credits offered. 

For more than a decade, Revolution Recovery’s 20 acre New Castle facility has been working to recycle about 80 percent of the approximately 800 tons of commingled and separated materials they receive per day. An additional 250 tons a day are recovered from its 3.5 acre Philadelphia facility. 

“Anything we can’t separate we have to pay to get rid of at the landfill or waste energy facility,” says Fern Gookin, Director of Sustainability for Revolution Recovery and DVGBC Board Member, “So it’s in our best interest to try to divert those costs as much as we can, too.”

They service a range of commercial businesses, residential projects, manufacturers, industries, and contractors and specialize in construction and demolition recycling throughout the Greater Philadelphia Area. Although they do not work exclusively with green buildings and LEED projects, they provide a full range of LEED and recycling reporting free of charge. 

Following a presentation from the Delaware Solid Waste Authority’s Public Education & Outreach Technician Stacy Helmer, Gookin gave us a crash course on Revolution Recovery’s work and then lead a tour through the facility along with Associate Kiley Walker and Revolution Recovery Co-founder Jon Wybar. 

Attendees got to walk through the area where trucks drive in to dump materials, loaders make them into piles, a misting system minimizes dust, a shaker loosens materials for the conveyor belt, and pickers sort the materials as they come up the line. Currently 91 employees work at the facility to help achieve the impressive number of recovered items.

Drywall, one of the most commonly trashed building matierals, is deconstructed on site. The paper is shredded and sent off to animal bedding manufacturers and the gypsum is sent to agricultural companies for balancing soil PH. Metals are extracted from scrap wood which then gets chipped into mulch for landscaping companies, and this is just the beginning of a huge network of various endusers. 

“Pricing is very closely tied to the commodities market,” says Gookin. “While we have a lot of upfront costs of labor and equipment that it takes to separate and process materials for recycling, because we’re able to get value out of the materials that we’re separating and those materials are going out into a variety of different recycling markets, then we are able to compete that way.”

It is because of this that they actually save their clients money in comparison to their biggest competitor, the landfill. 

Revolution Recovery also takes on metal, rubble, cardboard, plastics, mixed paper and other materials. Occasionally, they will salvage items such as desks and other furniture to donate to schools and organizations in need. At the Philadelphia location, resident artists are given full access to salvage any materials that come through the facility. This program, known as RAIR (Recycled Artists in Residency), eventually evolved to be a stand alone nonprofit with a studio space on site.

RAIR has been helping Revolution Recovery’s recognition by painting its dumpsters with colorful murals and characters, creating a sort of clever signage.

Revolution Recovery's footprint extends beyond the Philadelphia area as far as Harrisburg, the Jersey Shore, and the Lehigh Valley and Northeast Pennsylvania. Because pricing is based upon distance from a site to a landfill, some projects in the outlying counties may pay a premium to recycle material. Revolution Recovery will partner with outside trucking companies and haulers to be able to manage that material while still providing the services and scheduling.

To get your business connected, contact Revolution Recovery via email at or call 215.333.6505.

To support DVGBC in our efforts to inspire, educate, and connect people around green building practices with other events like these, please donate via our website and become a member today!


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