CDRA Member Spotlight: Andrea Johnson

Andrea Johnson, CEO at van der Linde Recycling & Container Rentals in Charlottesville, VA

Andrea Johnson

What materials do you recycle?

We recycle ferrous and non-ferrous metals, rigid plastics, shingles, PVC, concrete, brick, block, asphalt, wood, drywall, cardboard, vinyl siding, and green waste. We are almost finished with our expansion and by summer will add mattresses, carpet, film, and eventually foam to the materials we recycle.

Can you describe the volume and types of incoming materials you process?

Since COVID we receive on average 250-400 tons per day depending on the time of year. This is significantly lower than what we received pre-COVID. The material we receive consists mostly of construction and demolition debris, but we also receive material from commercial and manufacturing operations, as well as residential clean-outs and land clearing.

How did you get started in the business?

Our owner Peter van der Linde was a contractor who had a roll-off company to support his construction needs. Seeing the mass amount of recyclable materials in his dumpsters, he opened our C&D recovery facility in 2008. We have been growing ever since.

What are the biggest challenges in your market and C&D recycling?

Our biggest challenges are competing with low landfill fees, space to process, and end markets.

Where are the biggest opportunities?

The biggest opportunities for us at the moment are in plastic, drywall, mattresses, and shingles. There is so much of this material out there just waiting to be recovered. We have been working to position ourselves to have the space and equipment to process as well as establishing end markets to make sure they can all find a home.

How long have you been a member of CDRA?

I believe this is our third or fourth year. I would need to confirm, but this is the second year we have been actively involved as a member. It is in these two years that we have been able to grow the most. In many ways, as a direct result of our increased participation in CDRA. The resources alone have been amazingly helpful.

What inspired you to join CDRA?

We were inspired to join CDRA to connect with other people in the industry. Four years ago, as a new CEO, I was trying to find my feet, looking for ways to improve our recovery and improve our operations. I found the CDRA online and joined. I would read the articles and get ideas, but it was not until 2021, when I attended C&D World in Austin, that we really were able to make the changes we were looking for. The support was unexpected and amazing.

What do you find most rewarding about working in this industry?

What I find most rewarding about this industry is the difference we are making in our community. We are small but we are still able to make a difference. When I look at the tens of thousands of tons of material we recover that otherwise would be in a hole in the ground, there is pride.

What challenges have you faced over the years and how have you overcome them?

Our biggest challenge was opening in 2008. Between the opposition from neighboring transfer stations and the downturn in the economy, the challenges were immense. Were it not for the strength and perseverance of our owner, Pete, we would not have survived.

What’s something about you (a fun fact) that not many people know?

In a few weeks we will complete our solar project and be running our recycling facility almost 100 percent on solar energy. This has been an exciting project for us.

How do you think the industry is changing and what trends do you see coming up on the horizon?

The industry is growing, which is a great thing. More people are opening recovery facilities and new businesses that use recovered materials, which opens new markets.

What advice would you give to someone interested in this industry?

Fail forward. There will always be questions and never-ending challenges but do it anyway. There is never a good time. The second piece of advice I would give is to join industry associations. They are a wonderful resource for learning and growth. I wish I had done it sooner.

Best piece of business advice you’ve gotten or learned over the years?

Take care of your people and they will take care of you.


Would you like to have your company featured in a spotlight like this? Contact CDRA Executive Director William Turley at [email protected] or 630-258-9047. 

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