RMG, the parent company of Southside Recycling, purchased General Iron knowing that its long run on Chicago’s North Side was coming to an end. As a business that has been operating in the 10th Ward for more than 30 years, RMG saw a unique opportunity to build a new, modern metal recycling facility utilizing the latest in environmental protection technology at its long-time home on the Southeast Side.

Southside Recycling will have the capacity to recycle up to 1 million tons – 2 billion pounds – of obsolete metal products annually. This means that Southside Recycling’s operations will keep material approximately equivalent to the total amount of garbage collected in Chicago out of landfills each year.

To put it another way, Southside Recycling will help keep the equivalent of up to four Willis Towers from being buried in landfills annually.

we take our responsibility for the health of our employees, the 10th ward, chicago, and the earth seriously.

We have a responsibility to be stewards of the environment. We are adopting measures to meet or exceed all environmental standards to provide the greatest possible protection to human health and the Earth. Our obligations extend beyond ensuring a safe workplace for our employees; we are responsible for doing the right thing for the local community and the environment.

RMG IS A PROUD SOUTH SIDE BUSINESS WITH A 30-YEAR HISTORY OF RESPONSIBLE OPERATION IN THE 10TH WARD.

We have long demonstrated our commitment to being a good neighbor through safe and conscientious recycling operations, as well as our involvement in the local community. Southside Recycling will continue and build upon that tradition.

we are southside recycling

we are rmg

We’ve been a responsible, community-minded 10th Ward business since 1987.

30+

years

We first established a presence in the 10th Ward over 30 years ago. RMG and its predecessor businesses have safely and responsibly conducted metal and electronics recycling, stevedoring, and material handling services since 1987.

175

acres

RMG, Southside Recycling’s parent company, began assembling its current property more than 20 years ago. Through an affiliate, RMG made its first land purchase in 1997 at 116th Street and Avenue O, a brownfield site that was previously home to the LTV and Republic steel mills. We finished assembling the 175-acre site in 2001.

6,500+

households

RMG is a proud supporter of The Southeast Side of Chicago Food Pantry, which has operated on our property since April 2019. Its relocation to a building we provide has helped the organization to serve 6,551 households through the first 11 months of 2020, more than triple its capacity prior to moving.

Unfortunately, there have been some falsehoods about our new facility.

here are the facts:

Our project has been subject to a rigorous permitting process. We have applied for and received all necessary permits to build the facility. We have now applied for a Large Recycling Facility permit which will allow us to operate the facility once construction is completed.

SOUTHSIDE RECYCLING WILL BE THE MOST MODERN METAL RECYCLING FACILITY IN THE united states, AND OUR extensive array of pollution CONTROL EQUIPMENT WILL make us an industry leader.

the new

southside recycling

facility

the new

southside recycling

facility

what it is

modern and environmentally conscious

The operation’s pollution control equipment will be unrivaled in Chicago. In fact, no other shredding facility in the Midwest features all of the advanced technology and equipment that Southside Recycling is installing.

A vital part of keeping Chicago beautiful

We manage end-of-life goods through an environmentally responsible process that returns the metal to a form in which it can be reused in the manufacture of new products. Without the services we provide, unwanted goods would be discarded in streets and alleys, creating eyesores throughout the city.

A creator of WELL-PAYING HEAD OF HOUSEHOLD JOBS

We proudly employ our South Side neighbors in RMG’s existing businesses. Hundreds of construction workers are building the new Southside Recycling facility. The introduction of a new business primed for growth will create additional jobs on the South Side once we begin operating.

AN important player in chicago's environmental mission

Recycling metals conserves energy and natural resources. When obsolete metal goods are recycled instead of buried in a landfill, their value as a reusable asset can be realized. Using recycled metal in manufacturing processes reduces the need for energy-intensive mining of iron ore and other minerals. Southside Recycling will boast best-in-class metal recovery technologies to ensure the highest possible recycling rates.

what it is not

a dump

Southside Recycling is not a landfill or waste disposal facility. We buy end-of-life metal goods to keep them out of landfills and ensure that they are recycled to become new products.

a polluter

Recycling reduces pollution by curtailing the need for mining of natural resources. Southside Recycling will utilize the most advanced pollution control equipment available to ensure that our operations do not create harmful emissions. This includes a regenerative thermal oxidizer (RTO), roll-media filter, wet scrubber, and other equipment that combine to capture emissions created in the recycling process.

Unlike most shredding facilities, including all others in the region, Southside Recycling’s shredder will be enclosed to contain noise and dust. This style is common at shredding facilities in Europe, but is rarely used in the United States. Enclosing the shredder provides further emissions control while also creating a much more aesthetically pleasing facility. 

Southside Recycling is not a manganese nor a petcoke operation.

moving a dated facility

Southside Recycling is an entirely new business. It is not the relocation of General Iron. That operation will be shut down and replaced by this state-of-the-art facility.

More questions are addressed in our FAQs

Do you still have a concern that's not addressed?

THE SOUTH SIDE CAN BE A LEADER IN ATTRACTING RESPONSIBLE BUSINESSES WITH A FOCUS ON SUSTAINABILITY

Metal recycling is a vital function in Chicago and throughout the world. Without it, alleys and streets can become congested with discarded items, leading to increased sanitation costs, dangerous living conditions, and unnecessary landfill use. 

Southside Recycling will be the safest, most environmentally responsible metal recycling option for Chicago. The opening of this modern facility on the South Side will help establish the area as a model for sustainable industry that can be emulated elsewhere.

In June 2020, the Chicago Department of Public Health adopted stringent new rules specifically for large recycling facilities such as ours. These new rules guarantee that scrutiny of our business will not end upon the issuance of permits. Regulatory authorities will hold us accountable for abiding by all permit conditions and regulations.

We expect and accept this regulatory oversight, as it ensures compliance and facilitates fair competition.

a good neighbor

SOUTHSIDE RECYCLING WILL OPERATE ON NEARLY 25 ACRES

Large sections of the site have been paved to reduce dust and other debris. Misting cannons, street sweepers, and water trucks will also be used for dust suppression. To further enhance sustainability, water treatment systems are being installed to responsibly capture and clean stormwater and process water used in our operations.

THE SHREDDER WILL BE SIGNIFICANTLY REMOVED FROM PUBLIC VIEW

In addition to being enclosed, Southside Recycling’s shredder will be located approximately 2,500 feet from the nearest public right of way. It will sit five times farther from the nearest residence than General Iron’s current shredder in Lincoln Park.

more than 200 trees have been planted

Extensive landscaping improvements have been installed across from Rowan Park and George Washington High School as a buffer between Southside Recycling’s operations and the surrounding community. These improvements include the replacement of existing non-indigenous trees with native species that will both separate Southside Recycling from its neighbors and beautify the area.

WE HAVE SPARED NO EXPENSE IN BUILDING A MODERN, SAFE, AND ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY OPERATION.

We have invested in state-of-the-art technologies to ensure that our operation is unrivaled in its sophistication. RMG is committed to protecting the health of our local community on the South Side, as well as the hundreds of employees who work at our facility every day. We’ve been here for more than 30 years and have many team members who live in the surrounding neighborhoods.

SOUTHSIDE RECYCLING IS LEVERAGING THE MOST EFFECTIVE pollution CONTROL TECHNOLOGY AVAILABLE

Exhaust from the shredder is gathered by a capture hood, where it is directed through a high-efficiency cyclone that will remove large particulates. Exhaust then passes through a thick filtering material that creates a physical barrier and retains particulate matter. After exiting the filter, exhaust is directed to the regenerative thermal oxidizer (RTO), which eliminates volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and has a demonstrated destruction efficiency of greater than 98 percent. Finally, exhaust passes through the wet scrubber. This device neutralizes any gases that may be generated by the RTO. The visible emissions at the end of this extensive process are water vapor which is released through the stack that sits atop the wet scrubber.

You should know...

The regenerative thermal oxidizer (RTO) is a multi-million dollar high-efficiency pollution control device. Southside Recycling will be the only metal shredding facility in Chicago and the surrounding region, and one of the first in the entire country, to use this proven technology to reduce VOC emissions.

southside recycling has spared no expense when it comes to the environment

Advanced air monitoring equipment will be used at the operation. In addition, water trucks, street sweepers, and large misting cannons placed at strategic locations across the facility will be used when needed to control dust. We will capture and process water used in the operation, as well as stormwater runoff.

You should know...

The Southside Recycling site includes two detention ponds that cover more than 2.5 acres and can hold almost 4 million gallons of water. The water treatment system ensures that water will meet or exceed applicable standards.

southside recycling has invested heavily in safety technologies

A proven safety device called an LEL (lower explosive limit) monitor will be installed to detect elevated levels of combustible gases to prevent explosions.

You should know...

The LEL Monitor at Southside Recycling will continuously measure and electronically record the concentration of flammable vapor between the shredder and RTO.

timeline

The Road to Tomorrow

Reserve Iron & Metal, a predecessor to RMG, begins operations at the Port of Chicago, establishing its presence in Chicago’s 10th Ward.

1987

Reserve Marine Terminals (RMT) begins providing stevedoring and material handling services at the Port of Chicago.

1991

An RMG affiliate purchases 48 acres on the site of LTV Steel. RMT moves its stevedoring and material handling operations to the new site on the Calumet River.

1997

The same RMG affiliate makes two subsequent purchases of land from LTV Steel and Republic Steel. Upon completion of the purchases, RMG owns approximately 175 acres of former steel mill land.

1998
-2001

Napuck Salvage of Waupaca begins operations on the RMG site.

2002

RMT begins processing scrap metal on the RMG site.

2002

South Shore Recycling begins operations on the RMG site.

2004

Regency Technologies begins operations on the RMG site.

2008

RMT, Napuck Salvage of Waupaca, South Shore Recycling, Regency Technologies, and a number of other entities are officially consolidated under the RMG name.

2011

jul
2018

Recognizing that General Iron’s long run on the North Side is coming to an end, General Iron and RMG announce a strategic partnership to fill the void that would result from General Iron’s closing. They envision a new, modern metal recycling facility to be located on RMG’s expansive property along the Calumet River on the South Side.

aug
2018

RMG meets with community stakeholders and environmental groups, including the Southeast Environmental Task Force, the Southeast Side Coalition to Ban Petcoke, and the Natural Resources Defense Council, to answer questions regarding its proposed new recycling business.

jan
2019

RMG attempts to arrange a follow-up meeting to offer further transparency and open communication. Environmental groups refuse to meet.

Sep
‍2019

The City of Chicago, General Iron Industries, and RMG sign a Term Sheet Agreement outlining the parties’ respective commitments to the process of closing General Iron and constructing a new metal recycling facility on RMG’s South Side property.

sep
2019

RMG completes its purchase of General Iron’s business and assets and submits a construction permit application for the new facility to the Illinois EPA.

sep
2019
-jun
2020

After a nine-month review that includes 77 days for the receipt of public comments on the project, the Illinois EPA issues a final construction permit for the new facility. The Illinois EPA’s published report shows that at least 329 written comments were received.

dec 31
2020

After 100 years of operation on the North Side of Chicago, intake of recyclable material will cease at General Iron's Lincoln Park facility.

Q1
2021

RMG plans to begin operation of Southside Recycling, a new, state-of-the-art metal recycling operation with the most advanced pollution control equipment found anywhere in Chicago and the Midwest.

what if the large recycling facility permit for southside recycling is not approved?

Undeveloped industrial areas zoned for operations like metal recycling would sit vacant. Unchecked dumping of end-of-life goods on vacant properties owned by absentee landlords, like what has occurred on the property immediately to the south of RMG for three decades, could increase.

Some amount of metal recycling would continue in Chicago at the lone remaining shredding facility in Pilsen. This facility has none of the modern emissions control equipment that will be used at Southside Recycling, endangering human and environmental health in areas surrounding that site.

The overflow of unrecycled metal waste would burden Chicago's solid waste management system. Sanitation costs would rise and landfill-bound waste from Chicago and the surrounding region would see large increases in volume.

metal recycling statistics

Two-thirds of iron and steel produced in the United States is manufactured using ferrous scrap.

Recycling one car saves energy equivalent to 450 gallons of gasoline and reduces greenhouse gas emissions by the equivalent of 8,811 pounds of CO2.

Manufacturing steel from recycled ferrous scrap uses 60% less energy and reduces CO2 emissions by 58% compared to manufacturing from virgin materials.

Recycling one ton of steel conserves 2,500 pounds of iron ore, 1,400 pounds of coal, and 120 pounds of limestone.

The United States recycles about 13 million tons (26 billion pounds) of end-of-life vehicles annually. This saves enough energy to power 18 million homes.

The scrap recycling industry has a total economic impact of $2.41 billion and provides almost 12,000 jobs in Chicago.

Source: Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI)

news & insights

15
Sep 2021

Recycling Today

A Long Road to Startup

A Recycling Today deep dive traces the story of Southside Recycling back to its beginning.

Read More
30
Jun 2021

Cook County Record

Judge: Chicago's bow to activists, imperling General Iron permit, not 'final decision,' so not yet illegal taking

A federal judge cited jurisdictional and timing issues with Southside Recycling's lawsuit against the City of Chicago.

23
Jun 2021

Legal Filing

Southside Recycling Responds to Amicus Brief in Lawsuit Seeking Operating Permit

After three Southeast Side residents filed an amicus brief in the ongoing lawsuit with the City of Chicago, Southside Recycling filed a response to counter the brief's misleading claims.

21
Jun 2021

WLS-AM 890

Steve Joseph Provides Update on Southside Recycling Lawsuit to John Howell

John Howell invited RMG CEO Steve Joseph on his show to discuss the latest developments in Southside Recycling's fight to obtain its operating permit.

17
Jun 2021

Legal Filing

Southside Recycling Responds to City of Chicago Filing in Lawsuit Seeking Operating Permit

Southside Recycling filed a response refuting the City of Chicago's arguments against the company's lawsuit.

28
May 2021

WLS-AM 890

Southside Recycling featured on WLS-AM 890

RMG CEO Steve Joseph joined John Howell of WLS-AM 890 in Chicago to provide an update on the current situation surrounding Southside Recycling.

28
May 2021

Davis Index

Shredder and the city: Why Chicago’s delaying Southside Recycling’s ops

Davis Index published a comprehensive story on the history of the relationship between Southside Recycling and the City of Chicago.

24
May 2021

Legal Filing

Southside Recycling Files Memorandum in Support of Lawsuit

Southside Recycling filed a memorandum in support of their lawsuit seeking a court order that would compel the City of Chicago to issue an operating permit.

19
May 2021

Cook County Record

Southside recycler lawsuit: City bowed to activists, violated rules, seized property by refusing permit; Owes $100M+

Southside Recycling has asked a federal court to order Chicago to issue its operating permit and award damages.

18
May 2021

Federal lawsuit

SOUTHSIDE RECYCLING LAWSUIT SEEKING ISSUANCE OF LARGE RECYCLING FACILITY PERMIT

Southside Recycling has filed a complaint for mandamus asking a court to direct the City of Chicago and Dr. Allison Arwady, Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, to issue a final Large Recycling Facility permit that the company requires to operate.

18
May 2021

Press Release

SOUTHSIDE RECYCLING FILES FEDERAL LAWSUIT AGAINST CITY OF CHICAGO SEEKING COURT ORDER FOR ISSUANCE OF FINAL RECYCLING PERMIT

Southside Recycling, which has constructed the most environmentally conscious metal recycling facility in the country on Chicago’s Southeast Side, filed a federal lawsuit yesterday seeking a court order directing the City of Chicago to issue the final permit needed for the facility to begin operating.

24
Mar 2021

WBEZ

Southside Recycling’s Advanced New Facility Featured on WBEZ

RMG CEO Steve Joseph spoke with Linda Lutton of WBEZ in Chicago about how Southside Recycling’s high-tech new facility was designed to provide the highest level of environmental protection found at any metal recycling operation in the United States.

5
Feb 2021

Crain's Chicago Business

Southeast Side activists' complaints not supported by facts

Southeast Side environmental activists are well-organized and vocal, so it is both disheartening and disingenuous when they distort facts in the pursuit of their goals.

8
Nov 2020

Chicago Sun Times

General Iron is ‘closing, not relocating.’ New Southeast Side plant will be very different

General Iron is closing, not relocating. Almost nothing about our new construction from the ground up resembles the North Side site.

29
Oct 2020

Chicago Tribune

Commentary: Buyer of General Iron: We are a recycler, not a polluter

The metals recycling industry has been dedicated to the responsible management of resources for its centuries-long history. RMG’s site is well-suited for this type of work, and our financial commitment to this project will ensure that the facility’s equipment, processes and controls will be among the most environmentally responsible operations in the region.

23
Sep 2020

The Daily Line

RMG, an established presence, is building an environmentally responsible metal recycling facility

With nearly a dozen affiliated companies operating 14 facilities in 10 states, RMG has established an environmentally responsible presence in Chicago’s 10th Ward for over 30 years.

WE CARE ABOUT OUR NEIGHBORS. RMG HAS PROVEN THAT OVER 30 YEARS OF SAFE OPERATIONS AND COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT.

If you have questions, we'd love the opportunity to provide answers and information about who we are and what we do.

ANSWERS TO FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT SOUTHSIDE RECYCLING

Q

Our community has had to deal with the effects of harmful petcoke and manganese in the past. Does the new facility handle either of these materials?

A

Southside Recycling is not a manganese nor a petcoke operation. We are a recycler of obsolete and end-of-life metal goods, the vast majority of which are iron and steel.

Q

What about the explosion at General Iron? How do we know that this facility won’t have the same issue?

A

Southside Recycling will employ a device called an LEL (lower explosive limit) monitor which has the ability to automatically divert any airstream with elevated levels of combustible gases away from areas where combustion could occur.

Q

How do you keep improper materials out of the shredder?

A

The first line of defense in keeping improper materials out of the shredder is our close relationships with our registered supplier base. We conduct ongoing supplier education to ensure all individuals and companies delivering recyclables to us are fully aware of the materials we accept for shredding. Proper handling and complete draining of all fluids is required before Southside Recycling will accept recyclables from any supplier.

To further ensure compliance, we employ a team of inspectors will screen all inbound shipments for any prohibited or nonconforming materials. These inspectors are extensively trained to spot any potentially dangerous items, separate them before they can enter the shredder, and ensure that they are disposed of properly.

Q

What about the noise? Will this be a noisy operation?

A

Southside Recycling’s shredder will be enclosed, creating a physical sound barrier to contain noise from the operation. The shredder will be located approximately 2,500 feet from the nearest public right of way. A wall of shipping containers and newly planted trees provide additional noise buffers.

In addition, as part of our application for a Large Recycling Facility permit, we conducted a noise impact assessment that showed noise levels will be far below applicable City of Chicago standards.

Q

Does this facility release waste called ‘fluff’ that covers surfaces?

A

The enclosed shredder is designed to contain dust and noise. Southside Recycling will use extensive dust-suppression equipment and well-defined best practices to control dust and other materials, ensuring that they stay inside the property lines that bound the 25-acre site.

Q

I've seen smoke coming out of the General Iron facility. Is this dangerous smoke full of pollutants that will spew into the air on the South Side?

A

At Southside Recycling, the only emissions visible to observers from beyond the property line will be water vapor that is released from the wet scrubber stack. The wet scrubber stack is the last piece of equipment in a multi-part process that filters out metals, particulate matter, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) before steam (water vapor) is released into the air.

Q

Will your operation emit dangerous and noxious pollution that causes serious illness and even death?

A

No. Air emissions testing shows that any claims regarding excessive or illegal pollution from the equipment to be used at Southside Recycling are false and misleading. Sophisticated air dispersion modeling conducted for the Southside Recycling site demonstrates that emissions will be far below regulatory standards designed to protect human health and the environment.

Q

Won't the shredder be only a few hundred feet from schools?

A

No. Southside Recycling’s shredder will be located approximately 2,500 feet – almost a half-mile – from any school. This distance creates quite an expansive buffer, especially when compared to the location of the existing shredder on the North Side. In addition, the shredder at Southside Recycling will be enclosed to contain noise, dust, and other materials involved in the recycling process. Finally, Southside Recycling will employ environmental controls and equipment that do not exist at any other metal shredding facility in the Midwest.

Q

We have to block this business so that this metal shredding doesn’t pollute the environment, right?

A

No. Metal recycling plays a vital role in protecting the Earth. When metal is recycled and reused to manufacture new products, it keeps useful resources out of landfills, where their value as a reusable asset cannot be realized. Using recycled metal in manufacturing processes also reduces the need for harmful mining activities that use huge amounts of energy to extract virgin metal-making minerals from the Earth. If Southside Recycling is not allowed to operate, there will still be metal recycling in Chicago. However, the only other shredder within city limits, and all other shredders in the region, have none of the extensive pollution control equipment that Southside Recycling will employ at its site.

Q

Don't you care about the people on the South Side?

A

We care deeply about our neighbors on the South Side. RMG, the parent company of Southside Recycling, has been a part of the South Side community for more than 30 years. We have invested tens of millions of dollars to build a safe and environmentally responsible operation that protects the health of our employees and the surrounding neighborhoods, performs a vital economic and environmental service, and is primed for growth that will create more well-paying jobs. We have also worked to help beautify the neighborhood by planting more than 200 trees that will help create a visually pleasing buffer between our property and the surrounding community.

In addition, RMG has long supported community efforts such as the Southeast Side of Chicago Food Pantry, which operates in a building that RMG provides at no cost. Our operational and financial support of the food pantry has helped it to serve more than three times as many families than it was able to before moving to its current location. We will continue to support this vital organization and hope to help enable further growth.

RMG has also provided funding and support to other groups and organizations in the community, such as the East Side Little League, where we recently helped install a new scoreboard and storage areas in addition to making a financial contribution. We continue to search for additional ways to make a positive difference in the local community. If you have suggestions of other ways that we might help, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Q

Doesn't this company just want to move to the South Side because the North Side doesn’t want these types of businesses?

A

No. RMG, the parent company of Southside Recycling, has been proudly operating on the South Side for over 30 years. When we purchased General Iron to close down their operation and create our own, it was only natural that we wanted to open the new operation on our existing property. RMG’s land on the South Side is properly zoned for metal recycling and is ideally located with access to truck, rail, and barge shipping. In addition, we have an incredible workforce at our existing businesses, many of whom live on the South Side and have been with RMG for multiple decades. The addition of Southside Recycling to RMG’s operations on the South Side will create more well-paying head-of-household jobs that we hope to fill with our neighbors from the surrounding community.

Q

What will ensure Southside Recycling’s ongoing environmental compliance?

A

The Chicago Department of Public Health recently adopted stringent new rules specifically for large recycling facilities such as ours. These new rules guarantee that scrutiny of our business will not end upon the issuance of permits. Regulatory authorities will hold us accountable for abiding by all permit conditions and regulations. We expect and accept this vigilance, as it ensures compliance and facilitates fair competition.

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