Made in WNY: Living Green Insulation

July 21, 2014 Updated Jul 21, 2014 at 9:13 AM EDT

By Elizabeth Carey

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July 21, 2014 Updated Jul 21, 2014 at 9:13 AM EDT

A local couple is trying to bring new life to Buffalo's East Side with a green product.

Mounds of shredded newspaper at C&R Housing's Living Green Insulation will soon have a new use - as hydroseed mulch or cellulose insulation.

It's thanks to the hard work and dedication from a local couple. Company president Jabril Shareef and his wife Ellen invested in a
huge mulcher from Australia which grinds up old newspaper.

"We use recycled newspaper, but it is uncirculated Buffalo News paper, clean paper," Shareef said. "It's not the paper recycled from the curb. It doesn't have any impurities."

Shareef sends stacks of paper through the mulcher, which can grind up to 15 tons in an eight-hour shift. Workers can fill about two bags per minute.

Now that production is lined up, Shareef's wife Ellen is working to line up more customers who need the product like landscapers who add seed to create hydroseed mulch or contractors who want green insulation.

After working as contractors for decades, the Shareefs have spent the past four years renovating the old 80,000 square foot Iroquois Brewery on Pratt Street, which dates back to 1862. They've added new windows, a new office and more. "We're creating green jobs on the East Side of Buffalo in an economically depressed area," Ellen said.

There's a lot riding on the project, but the couple is encouraged by development taking place in Western New York. "We have a passion for this area," Ellen said. "We've invested a lot of time and money in this area. We just thought it would be fabulous to create more jobs."

The Shareefs estimate that the mulch will account for half of company sales, while cellulose insulation will make up the other half, noting that there's a demand for both products in Western New York.