In 1978 Bob and Claudia Conroy started an independent silver recycling business. Before digital imagery came about, photographic film was used to capture images. When making photographic film, silver nitrate is treated with halide salts of sodium or potassium to form insoluble silver halide and then is applied to the film strips. They would reclaim the silver nitrate off of photographic film and x-ray film. Once the silver had been reclaimed, they would send it to refiners to recycle the silver nitrate further.
In 1983 they determined that the only way to make the most off the reclaimed silver nitrate was to refine it themselves. They started refining their own silver and smelting their own silver into bullion form. They would also refine the silver slug off of the electrolytic machines of dark rooms and hospitals. When refining the slug they were able to turn it into bars and make it 98% – 99% pure silver. By doing this they were able to ensure they could be paid top dollar when selling it to be refined further.
A friend of Bob and Claudia’s, who was also in the silver refining business, was in the scrap metal business as well. He recommended that they open a scrap yard in addition to their silver recycling. In his opinion, “it would be the wave of the future”. Since digital imagery was coming into play and starting to phase out photographic film, and with the shortage of metals and overall world growth, Bob and Claudia felt it could be their way to have a hand in helping out our environment. Since Bob had a construction background, they initially jumped into the aluminum recycling part of their business by visiting jobs sites looking for scrap aluminum siding. In 1986 Bob started picking up siding at smaller housing projects and would weigh and pay them for their material on the spot. This was convenient for the siders and helped Bob establish himself as a convenient, fair and friendly scrap man. Claudia took care of all financials and played an intricate role in growing their recycling business.
After achieving success with their one man - one truck operation, Bob & Claudia opened their first buy back center in Palatine in 1987. They started to spread the word that they now had a drop off location and would pay them a higher price if they would bring the siding in. Our Palatine facility's name began as American Aluminum Recycling. At our new facility siding and aluminum cans had now become a big focus of the business. Eventually they started gravitating towards recycling copper and brass as well. Soon, American Aluminum Recycling became a full service, non-ferrous recycling facility.
Early on, the Conroy’s were interested in educating the youth about recycling and working within the community. They set up a recycling program at their children’s grade school for recycling aluminum cans and donated all the proceeds to the school's learning center. Participating in the community is still a focus of our company today with educational tours, classroom visits, recycling programs and more.
As the business grew, Bob and Claudia decided to expand and purchased a building in Elgin under the name Elgin Recycling. After opening in 1993, their Elgin facility soon became their most profitable location and the company's main office. Over time Bob and Claudia decided to expand their business in Crystal Lake by opening Crystal Lake Recycling in 2005.
Shortly thereafter we bought a truck with a few roll off trailers and ventured to begin the ferrous side of our business. The ferrous side was really starting to gain steam within our company platform and Elgin Recycling was establishing a good name for itself within the industry.
As the times were changing in the world, Elgin Recycling realized there is a greater need for recycling than just ferrous and non-ferrous metals. In 2006, Elgin Recycling expanded its' metals operation into the electronic, plastic, paper and cardboard industries. As technology becomes increasingly important in today's world, Elgin Recycling felt it was their responsibility to play a part in recycling any e-waste that could come their way.
Eventually, it was time to brand the company under one name, Elgin Recycling. Our first website went live in 2008 and change was on the horizon. The business had out grown the Elgin facility and we needed to establish new roots. The decision became clear to purchase another facility that would become our main office, steel yard and main processing facility in Gilberts, IL in 2009. We moved in quickly and with markets at an all time high, Elgin Recycling saw an opportunity to expand its ferrous option a block away in Gilberts.
We now have 5 Full Service public locations within the Chicago-land area. We service our customers nationally and with our fleet of trucks and containers we can service the smallest to largest accounts. Bob and Claudia feel that our company has a responsibility to the community and the environment and instills this commitment within the company culture today. We started as a small family owned business that cared about the customer and our employees and today remain the same family owned business with equal values.