So over spring break this year in keeping with our typical family fashion we opted to have an educational experience and visit a local recycling facility where my parents live in Lexington, KY. It was a great opportunity and I think the whole family liked learning about the process and how we can be better stewards of our resources. I have written about some of the highlights below.
1. Weighing in
The first part of the process is to make sure to account for the material coming in and going out of the recycle facility. Every truck that comes and goes gets weighed. This helps give an accurate account of what is being saved and reused as well as keeping track of the the accounting end of the business. So far this recycling center is not only helping to save the environment but has been able to pay for the center with the products that it has recycled. It pays for it self in more than one way.
2. The Dumping Floor
After the material has been weighed it is dumped onto the dumping floor. Workers then manually pick through items to make sure there isn’t anything that shouldn’t be in the pile. There is a bulldozer that is periodically pushing the items against the sorting wall to loosen the material and make room for more. And there is plenty more to come.
3. Shaking and Tossing
Next the items are picked up by a forklift and tossed into a bin that slightly shakes the material helping to loosen the compacted items more so it is prepared to go to the manual picking/sorting station.
4. Sorting the materials
After the material has reached the belt line it is sorted through manually as well as by using several unique machines. The steel items are picked up magnetically and sorted from the rest. This facility just acquired a new machine that sorts the aluminum cans by using two negative polarized magnets to pick up the cans and propel them through a two story shoot. Items are sorting and placed into different large containers to get ready to package for shipping.
5. Getting it ready to ship out
Finally items are ready to get compacted and packaged ready to ship out to various recycle vendors. Various different vendors take the materials and reuse them. The trucks come and pick the items up and weigh on the way out of the facility, giving the center an idea of how much material has been saved and reused.
I was amazed at this facility how many types of items were being recycled; paper products, steel and aluminum cans, plastic containers, glass and other items.They have a dedicated employee that even looks at items they aren’t currently being recycled and pursues ways that vendors can reuse them. This facility services the city as well as other surrounding cities and counties. Even items that can’t be recycled at this plant are still being collected and transported to other facilities that can recycle items such as car parts, household items and electronics. Their goal is to be Net Zero and to strive for 100% reuse of products in the near future.
Some of the uses for the recycled materials so far:
- Paper- furniture products, recycled paper products such as newspaper and paper towels, napkins,plates toilet paper.
- Aluminum- new cans, furniture, car parts
- Steel- new cans, furniture, cars, machines ect.
- Glass- new bottles, glass art, other glass products
- Plastic- plastic ware, carpet and even Fleece products!
I would say they are off to a good start.
The tour was truly educational and really made me think about how we treat our environment and things I can do as an individual to help make this world a better“Greener” place to live in now and in the furniture. I am encouraged to see so many people coming together to make our nation a more sustainable environment and a healthier place to live.
I encourage you to check out facilities and recycling programs in your area. Many government, schools and corporate initiatives and programs are available and waiting for you or your organization to be a part of.
Think Big, Start Small but START!
SOME OF THE BENEFITS OF RECYCLING Recycling reduces waste that goes to landfills and produces revenue for our city. Besides reducing waste, recycling also:
Saves Energy: Recycling one aluminum can saves as much electricity as it takes to run a television for three hours.
Conserves Natural Resources: Recycling a four-foot stack of a local newspaper produces as much paper pulp as a 40-foot pine tree. Bottles and jars can be used to replace high grade sand, soda ash, limestone and feldspar in making new bottles.
Improves the Environment: Pollutants from manufacturing processes are reduced through recycling–50% for paper and 90% for aluminum
Strengthens the Economy: Reclaiming resources from our waste puts money back into the local economy and provides many jobs in the recycling industry.