The last seven months have been plagued by historic unemployment rates due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But during a recent meeting, the Falls Township board of supervisors took a major step to reverse those metrics.
Last month, the supervisors voted unanimously to grant preliminary and final land development approval for construction of a 254,699-square-foot warehouse and a roughly 300,000-square-foot recycling facility.
Once completed, the warehouse is expected to employ 75 to 100 workers. The recycling facility, anticipated to be built over a 17-month period, will employ 150 to 200 workers during construction, and about 100 to 110 permanent full-time employees once at full operation.
Supervisors chairman Jeff Dence said the two spaces will be a “great” addition to the township.
Regarding the warehouse, Alro Steel Corporation plans to consolidate two vacant properties and undertake a three-phase project at Progress Drive and Steel Road South in the heavy industrial district. Once complete, the 14.63-acre tract would house the warehouse for the company’s metals, industrial supplies and plastics. Company representatives told the board that 10,744 square feet of the total building will be strictly dedicated to office space.
Alro Steel, which has been in business since 1948 and operates more than 70 locations in 12 states, plans to hire primarily warehouse positions. Other available roles include administrative staff, a general manager, superintendent for the warehouse and an inside sales manager and operations manager. Some 35 to 50 employees would be initially hired, with the total number of employees increasing to 75 to 100 once the company is fully operating.
As for the recycling facility, Empire Fiber, LLC intends to construct a recovered fiber market pulp manufacturing center on U.S. Steel property, situated at Middle Drive in the township’s materials processing and manufacturing district. The 33-acre parcel is located in the Keystone Industrial Port Complex.
According to the company’s CEO and president Jim Austin, the site was chosen in large part because of its easy access to land and water transport. Empire would either ship 60 containers of pulp out of the plant daily by barge at the Keystone site, or would haul product by truck to the Port of Newark and transport on container ships.
“The beauty of the site is that we do not have to pass the residences coming and going to this property,” said Austin, adding that not impacting the local community is “the only way to run a business.”
Once operational, the state-of-the-art facility will recycle old corrugated containers and mixed paper products into recycled paper. Plans call for the processing of 500,000 tons of material from Waste Management, Republic Services and other trash and recycling haulers.
Austin said the company anticipates total annual revenues of $135 million to $150 million, and $6.2 million per year for its payroll.
He stressed that, unlike other paper processing facilities, Empire’s recycling operation is virtually odorless.
“You could actually be sitting in the parking lot of this plant,” he said. “You won’t hear it running and you won’t smell it.”
In terms of production, dry fiber comes into the plant in bales, is put on a conveyor, and is then moved into a hydro pulper with hot water at 110 degrees Fahrenheit to break up the cellulose fiber. The material is put through the processing line to remove contaminants such as tape, Styrofoam and plastic.
About 4 percent to 5 percent is sorted out of line and goes into a Dumpster. Almost 15 percent has been through the recycling process three to five times. No longer strong enough to manufacture paper, it’s put into the side collection system to be used for daily landfill cover. Empire has an agreement with Waste Management to truck its unusable material for landfill cover.
From there, the water removed in the manufacturing process would be taken to 20 parts per billion purity. Effluent water would be treated and discharged to either the Morrisville Municipal Authority or U.S. Steel’s wastewater treatment facility.
The plant would operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
“It’s essential that the systems run constantly,” Austin said.
Samantha Bambino can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org