Aiken County and South Carolina officials attended Tuesday’s groundbreaking ceremony for Atlanta-based Recleim, which is opening at 118 Hard St., in the former Hickman Mill building. The 110,000-square-foot facility once housed yarn operations for Avondale Mills and is undergoing a total overhaul by Evans General Contractors.
“This will be a tremendous boost to Aiken County and more importantly, Graniteville, where these buildings have been sitting vacant since 2006,” said Sandy Haskell, Aiken County Council vice chairman.
Recleim executives announced in February that the company would invest $40 million to build its flagship appliance-recycling plant in Graniteville.
“We have begun conducting tear-down activities to get a thorough understanding of the appliances to help us develop our operational strategies,” said Recleim President and CEO Ben Hirokawa.
The facility will convert discarded computers, small electronics and appliances such as refrigerators and freezers into raw material.
The environmentally friendly recycling operations will be done using equipment and technology from a German company, Adelmann Umwelt GMBH.
“It gives us a great opportunity and a competitive advantage in the market and will reduce the amount of waste going into our nation’s landfills,” said the plant’s general manager, Douglas Huffer.
At full capacity, the plant will serve a 600-mile radius and will recycle more than 400,000 refrigerators each year, Huffer said.
Recleim’s management team is in place, and additional hiring is expected late this year through 2014. More job information will be posted on the company’s Web site, www.recleim.com.
Renovations of the facility are expected to continue this year, with equipment installation beginning next year.
The building was vacated by Avondale Mills seven years ago, a year after a deadly train crash halted operations for weeks as chlorine gas drifted into the company’s offices and mills, leaving expensive equipment destroyed.
State political figures spoke to the hardships faced by Graniteville residents after the 2005 wreck.
“This is a tremendous community: good, decent, resilient, hardworking people here,” said South Carolina Sen. Shane Massey, of Edgefield. “They’re blue collar, and they’re proud of it.”