'Big Crusher' machine helps keep old paper mill revamp sustainable

'Big Grinder' Machine for the Mill at Vicksburg
Posted at 5:02 PM, Oct 21, 2020
and last updated 2021-01-14 17:01:44-05

VICKSBURG, Mich. — Sustainability is the focus of an $80 million project to revamp an old paper mill in west Michigan.

They're using a machine that uses recycled concrete to revamp the mill, creating a new business and event space.

The big grinder machine crushes 10,000 tons of concrete down to pebbles that will be re-used on the property to construct roads, sidewalks and even trails.

"What they’re actually crushing right now are a bunch of old buildings that were actually failing and not historic that were tore down," said the Mill at Vicksburg's Chief Operating Officer Jackie Koney.

It's all part of an $80 million renovation project that is happening at the Mill at Vicksburg.

As a part of their sustainability commitment, they brought in the giant machine to help recycle materials.

"It goes into the big bin, and then there’s a big magnet that pulls out all of the rebar and metal. Then it’s just concrete aggregate. Then it gets crushed into smaller pieces. It goes along a conveyer belt, and then it gets spit out and put into a new big pile of smaller pieces," said Koney.

The machine eliminates the need to have around 500 dump truck loads haul over 7,000 cubic yards to landfills. That's an equivalent weight of around 1,500 elephants.

"It’s certainly a lot better for us to crush and reuse this stuff instead of it going to a landfill, so the idea here is to try to be as sustainable and environmentally friendly as possible," said Koney.

With the end result, they'll be able to build nearly 15 miles of sidewalk or two miles of road to help bring the old paper mill property back to life.

"This project is ongoing. It’s been a long haul. We started working on it a year ago, and we have about four to five years left. What we are trying to create is a destination here in southwest Michigan. It will focus on beer, events and music, and lots of other things too," said Koney.

The Mill at Vicksburg is a National Historic Landmark. The project is expected to be completed in 2024 or 2025.