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Couple opens recycling business in Sault to keep community clean

Committed to protecting the environment, Chuck and Sherry Kruch launched Reina Recycling and Resource Recovery to help Sault residents properly dispose of electronics and other unwanted items

Rudyard residents, Chuck and Sherry Kruch, have always been committed to doing their part in conserving and helping keep the environment clean. 

And now, they are taking it one step further.

This past Saturday, they officially started their newest adventure in helping keep the environment cleaner by opening up "Reina Recycling and Resource Recovery," a non-profit company in Sault Ste Marie.

They are located at 401 Fort St., one block north of Spruce Street near Lock City Lumber.

After their first day at the shop, they took time to reflect on their new challenge and how they got to this point in their lives.

1) What did each of you do prior to this recycling program?

Chuck was an interpretive ranger for Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore from 1981 to 1990. After that, he worked for Customs and Border Protection in Sault Ste. Marie until his retirement in 2011. Since then, he's been helping me at the Doggie Bed & Breakfast, which I opened in 2002 in Dafter. We met through his dogs, Hooper and Kia, whom I took care of at the kennel. We married in 2007, and I relocated the kennel to his property in Rudyard. He has owned the property since 1998 and has worked on many conservation projects over the years, including planting thousands of trees and having several ponds dug to restore wildlife habitat. As for me, other than running the kennel, I've also been an English and Spanish tutor for many years.

2) Why did you decide to do this? I know to cut back on landfill waste, but why else?

We've always been committed to recycling as much of our household waste as possible, and we're both committed to protecting and preserving the environment. Chuck was actually involved in getting the Bottle Bill passed back in the 1970s.

There have been so many tough challenges we've all faced over the last few years, and so much seems to be spinning out of control at times. I just felt like I needed to do something to make a difference. Then this idea sprang up and caught hold of me - more of a case of a mission that chose me than me choosing the mission.

3) What credentials do you have (non-profit, etc.) to do this now, and what are you looking at for certification in the future and why?

We are a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization set up for educational purposes and to benefit the public. We are working on becoming registered as an electronics equipment recycler through EGLE (Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy) and also to become R2 certified, an assurance that we operate our recycling facility in a safe and environmentally responsible manner.

4) Why do you see a need for something like this in the EUP?

Electronics drop-off locations aren't widely available in our area, which can lead to toxic materials ending up in landfills or, worse, in fields, forests or waterways. Having a network of drop-off sites and collection events that are widely publicized will help prevent environmental contamination and make valuable resources available for new uses. Other places that accept electronics and/or small appliances for recycling include Goodwill and Habitat for Humanity ReStore in Sault Ste. Marie, Bay Mills Waste Transfer Station in Brimley, and the Hope Chest Thrift Store in St. Ignace.

5) Is this actually fun for you two? Seems like a lot of work!

It is a lot of work, but it's really satisfying to work! And you never know what interesting things will come in. Besides, I've always enjoyed seeing how things work and what they're made of. Dismantling an old computer or small appliance is a very engrossing and relaxing activity, very meditative.

6) When did you come up with the idea? How long has it gotten to where you are today?

It was a big old air conditioner that sparked the idea to start a recycling business. After Chuck and I loaded it into the back of our hatchback last August, I learned that I'd have to have it drained of refrigerant and tagged before it could be recycled. I found a professional to do that for me, and $40 later, the back of my car was my own again. But it made me curious about what was involved in draining and tagging an air conditioner, so I started doing some research. One thing led to another, and we both found ourselves looking into the wider world of electronics recycling, talking to very helpful people around the state, and touring several recycling centers. Over time, our enthusiasm to start our own program grew, and we decided to embark on a new adventure.

7) Your first official day is over. What were you surprised by, if anything?

A teacher brought in some really cool antiquated educational science equipment.

8) You found some usable, working items. What is next for those items?

Since reusing is preferable to recycling, we'd like to sell working items locally and on eBay to help raise money for the recycling program. We're also building up quite a stock of useful odds and ends, like power cords, speakers, screws, small motors, etc. We want to show our support for teachers by supplying these items free of charge for their classroom projects. All others can contact us for prices.

9) Please add anything else to help promote your program!

Education is an important part of our mission. Right now, we're concentrating on getting up and running, but in the future, we plan to offer educational materials and tours.

For contact information and guidelines, please visit their Facebook page.