Looney Bins Inc./ Downtown Diversion Inc.

Founded: 1989
Core Business: Recycling construction debris and other material
Employees in 2007: 150
Employees in 2006: 135
Goal: To recycle a large percentage of construction debris, movie set material and general waste to keep it out of landfills
Driving Force: Environmental concerns and programs and requirements that encourage recycling


From drywall to dirt to couches to cardboard, if it's thrown into one of Looney Bins' trademark orange dumpsters, the company will probably recycle it.


Sun Valley recycling company Looney Bins Inc. has built a reputation on accepting, sorting and recycling just about anything tossed into its bins, and with its sister company, Downtown Diversion Inc., has a certified recycling rate of over 75 percent higher than most any other recycler in the business.


The company started nearly two decades ago as a demolition contractor, but over time it became clear that much of the waste from demolition could be recycled, said Mike Hammer, the company's president and chief executive. Few companies at the time were in the business of recycling such debris, and the company soon gained recognition within the industry.


"We became known for being able to handle large construction and demolition jobs," Hammer said. "Today we process over 1,500 tons per day of construction and demolition debris."


And its reach is growing. Looney Bins began recycling movie sets and is increasingly being used by small contractors, supermarkets and private residences.


Today, one of the company's largest clients is Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc., whose Culver City studio has been recycling its sets for the past decade.


"They provide excellent service," said Bruce Ferency, grounds foreman for Sony Studios.


He said some other recyclers say they recycle movie sets, but Looney Bins is the only one he knows of that does so on a large scale.


And since the studio started using the service 10 years ago, it has diverted a huge amount of debris from landfills. Looney Bins has recovered thousands of tons of wood from the Sony studio alone.


"Before that, it would just go into the dumpsters and then to the landfills," Ferency said.


Movie set recycling has been highly successful for the company: As much as 90 percent of the material recovered from movie sets is recycled, the company estimates.


And it is being reused in some surprising ways.


Wood recovered by Looney Bins has been used in the Special Olympics and for making planter boxes for area nurseries, while nails and related building materials have been used in foreign countries to make hospitals and other structures.

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