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Touring the Materials Recovery Facility

After what felt like should have been an episode on Dirty Jobs, we took up the on-site manager’s friendly offer to tour the Materials Recovery Facility and got a sneak-peak, first-hand on how they sort the recyclables from contaminants and get the recyclables in quality shape (needs to be under 10% contamination) for re-sale to interested buyers.



We stepped into a land of mountainous recyclables hitting the ceiling and leaving no space unused in the facility. Blue bin material (that came in from a curbside residential recycling program) were placed on a large conveyor belt and were then sorted manually on the belt while moving, rapidly and accurately, by a team of facility workers who separated and dropped recyclables into three common categories: paper, glass and plastics #1-7.




Once sorted, each of the recyclables piles is then baled together. One large bale is usually 2000-2500 lbs. of compressed plastic or cardboard and paper. Glass on the other hand, is melted down by color: green, red or clear. Bales are shipped to buyers daily. Almost every day, 400-500 tons of recyclables and trash are sorted through to salvage materials and divert them from the landfill.



It was an eye-opening and truly educational experience to understand what happens to our recyclables and trash when it leaves our homes. Understanding where it all goes and the labor it takes to sort recyclables were certainly enlightening moments that reminded us to go easy on the Earth and recycle, recycle, recycle, and recycle properly, whenever possible.



Check out our photo stream to see the rest of the pictures from our Materials Re-Use Facility tour!

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