When Marvin and Cindy Wernimont ran out of wood for their stove in their home near Rembrandt in the mid-1990s, they started to get pretty worried. Then Marvin stumbled on some used oil filters in the garage. He tossed some into the wood stove and they worked just fine and kept them warm and toasty all night.
It wasn't long until the Wernimonts took their idea one step further and founded Filter Recycling Inc., a business that accepts used oil filters and recycles the metal, either for use in manufacturing new filters or other metal.
Cindy Wernimont said the business located on 5167 Old 21 Road, just off River View Road and north of the Hy-Vee warehouse on the north end of Cherokee, accepts the used oil filters in 55-gallon or 30-gallon drums and dumpsters. Wernimont said customers pay Filter Recycling Inc. $15 for a 55-gallon drum. The filters are crushed to a foot-square block then baked for 30 hours in two ovens, the first 1,400 -1,500 degrees and the hotter secondary chamber which gets up to 1,650 degrees. An oil galley under the table where the metal blocks rest catches the used oil which is used as fuel for the 40-foot ovens.
"When we're done, there's no oil left," Cindy said. The paper filters turn to carbon ash which is actually a necessary ingredient in the steel-manufacturing process. The whole process is housed in a 100-by-200 building.
Cindy said business is increasing every year. A lot of the recycled filters go to a foundry at Norfolk, Neb., and Sterling, Ill. Cindy said the Norfolk site is the largest seller of metal back to filter manufacturers.
They get most of their filters from service stations, truck stops, and lube shops from Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Kansas, and the Memphis, Tenn., area. "Just about anywhere," Cindy said.
Those who bring the filters to Filter Recycling Inc. actually make money since they typically charge $1 to $2 for a recycling fee. Since there are about 200 car filters or 50-70 truck filters in a 55-gallon barrel that costs $15 for disposal, customers still make money from their recycling fees.
Service stations or lube shops who need to dispose of their used filters can call Filter Recycling Inc. at 712-225-1331.