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Two URI students at their recycling business

Environmental economics and management majors Dylan Gregory ’12 and Cory Harrigan ’13  didn’t know each when they came to URI. But a URI class on energy economics (not to mention the discussions and debates that happened there) inspired a friendship and a recycling business that’s saving local automotive companies hundreds of dollars a month.

“Recycling is a basic form of sustainability. I don’t see why our society can’t attain an 80 to 90 percent recycling rate, and that is what our business to trying to achieve,” Cory said.

“Recycling is something that needs to be done, and there is no reason businesses should bear the costs of being environmentally friendly,” Dylan said. “Our classes at URI taught us to ruminate, and we began to think we could be the ones to turn trash into useful products while making a profit and lowering costs for  customers,” Cory added. With that shared philosophy and a lot of determination, Scrap Specialists Recycling was born.

Their first customer was a single auto body business with three locations in Rhode Island. Dylan and Cory dropped off dumpsters for all the business’s recyclables – paper, boxes, plastics, auto parts, and scrap metal. When the dumpster was full, Cory and Dylan removed, sorted and bailed the materials, and sold it for a small price to vendors who hauled the bails away.

“That business previously had to pay a monthly fee plus tips every time its dumpsters had to be emptied. “They’re saving $200-$400 per month, and we make our money by selling the recyclable materials,” Dylan said. That first venture was so successful that they had about a dozen clients by the time Dylan graduated in May 2012. “We generate enough revenue to cover our expenses and to gradually expand our operation. We could pay ourselves with the revenue, but we choose to invest everything back into the business at this point,” he said. After all, a paycheck wasn’t the driving force here.

“Recycling is a basic form of sustainability. I don’t see why our society can’t attain an 80 to 90 percent recycling rate, and that is what our business to trying to achieve,” Cory said.

In one year, these two young entrepreneurs have gone from borrowing other people’s vehicles for scrapping, to owning their own vehicles and equipment. They’ve gone from dumpster diving to owning their own dumpsters. And they’ve gone from scrapping metal part-time to accepting pretty much anything.  They say, humbly, “we simply identified a problem, saw a chance to make difference, found a way to make it work, and have taken things one step at a time ever since.” Well, that’s what big thinkers do.

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