Writer: Kim Kisner

Founder Maria Marin Started Local, Now Contemplates Going Global

MARIA MARIN
MARIA MARIN
Published On March 26, 2024

In 1999, Maria Marin tapped into her passion for “doing the right thing for Mother Earth” and started Unlimited Recycling Inc. Today, the company offers total recycling and waste management to companies and individuals nationally with the goal of going global.

SBN Detroit sat down with Marin to hear about how her recycling services – and clients – have evolved over the years.

Q: Tell me about Unlimited Recycling

A: Unlimited Recycling is a comprehensive total waste management company offering one-stop-shop services for any type of waste stream. Our services include transportation of any waste or recycling material, equipment rental, including dumpsters of any size, compactors, balers, and any type of container to properly store and transport material.  In addition, we offer reporting, training, and education. To date, we’ve handled millions of pounds of waste.

Q: What prompted you to start the company in 1999?

A: I worked for the Department of Natural Resources, and we received many calls on illegal dumping in waterways and even backyards. When I became pregnant with my first son – who is now the VP of the business – I was told not to eat the fish out of the Great Lakes due to mercury levels. I was so disturbed by that and felt I needed to do something about this problem.

I also had the desire to be independent and have my own business. The opportunity presented itself when I lost a job and was looking for next steps. I decided it was time and that I could start my company and shape it any way I liked. The opportunities were limitless, so I named it Unlimited Recycling. We started with universal waste such as fluorescent lamps, batteries, electronic equipment, etc. Eventually, customers started asking about other waste streams, including industrial waste and gradually adding more services.

40 Yard Compactor Receiving Box 150x150
COMPACTOR RECEIVING BOX

Q: How did your business evolve?

A: In 2008, I had the opportunity for an Army contract – they wanted solid waste management for recycling and trash. This would require trucks and dumpsters in an industry I did not know anything about. It took three months for me to learn the business, and the contract was awarded two months later. I purchased my first roll-off truck and 13 dumpsters.  Our fleet and equipment have grown tremendously since then. Facilities and companies want one vendor to oversee all their recycling and waste management needs, so we have taken this on by managing these companies’ vendors, contracts, billing, dispatching, and purchasing. We went national about three years ago.

Q: How have things changed over the years with the recent government mandates and focus on greenhouse gas emissions and sustainability overall?

A: It has been very refreshing to see that the State of Michigan and the governor are on board. Last year, Michigan set new policies to increase the state’s 19% recycling rate to 29% by 2029 and organic waste to 45% material recovery by the year 2050.

I believe these goals could be achieved much sooner. To do this, we need to spread awareness within our personal and professional communities. We are working with companies such as Walbridge, managing LEED disposal management for the Gordie Howe International Bridge U.S. Port of Entry, Selfridge Air National Guard Base waste and recycling for the last 22 years, and total waste management for Android Industries, Magna, and many other automotive suppliers.

When I started the business, people thought I was crazy. Now I don’t have to sell the why. We have people calling us every day. It’s still a challenge, but every day awareness increases more for the need to recycle.

Mack 01 Photo Roll Off 150x150
MACK TRUCK

Q: You mentioned you also train companies in recycling. What does that look like?

A: Yes. Many people still don’t know how to properly recycle and also find it daunting.  I go into businesses and implement their recycling program according to their needs. Often, we start with single-stream recycling for offices and train them on acceptable items and materials, containers needed, etc. Many people do not realize that if you put one waste material that doesn’t belong in a recycling bin, it will contaminate the load.

Also, there is a misconception that recycling is expensive. We’ll do a cost analysis for companies and show them that being sustainable is not only the right thing to do, it can also be economical. We’ve saved companies thousands of dollars from diverting cardboard alone.

Q: Have the needs of your clients changed a lot through the years?

A: Yes. Many started with one service and now we are handling all of it. I’ve seen many companies grow in their efforts over the years. They are becoming more environmentally aware, and their corporate offices are setting higher standards for sustainability, so we get requests all the time from current customers asking if we can recycle new additional waste streams for them or find a solution for a waste stream that isn’t commonly known to be recyclable.

I think our services and creative solutions help us retain our customers and find new ones through recommendations regularly. I think that credit goes to our amazing team that responds quickly to customer requests and needs. 

Blue Single Stream Recycling Bin 150x150
SINGLE STREAM RECYCLING BIN

Q: You offer dumpster rental, universal waste recycling, industrial waste recycling, food waste composting, and LEED waste management. What services do companies and institutions use the most?

A: All of the above every day! We are getting more and more requests lately for LEED. (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design).

Q: What does your future look like?

A: Our goal is to increase our total waste management services to help companies reach their sustainability and zero-waste landfill goals. We started here in Detroit and are now nationwide; however, it has always been in the plan to go global. I want to go back to my roots, to South and Central America, to teach Latin communities how to recycle, providing them with education and resources. I was recently invited to travel to Africa to assist the country with its plan to implement recycling programs. I dream of doing there what I have done here. We have a mission without borders because our future is unlimited.

 

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