Listed below are recent posts across all of CalRecyle's blogs.
Shortly after starting my job here at CalRecycle, I was surprised to find out that I, along with the majority of our office, would be taking a brief field trip to a waste management facility, i.e., a dump. Didn’t I get a job in Public Affairs? At my previous job, I rarely left the office, so I was excited for the trip but reluctant given the venue.
When the day finally came, we piled into an eight-passenger van and headed to the Western Placer Waste Management Facility just 30 miles outside of downtown Sacramento.
It’s important to know that different jurisdictions take different approaches to managing their waste. While in a lot of areas, residents have recycle bins and are expected to separate and sort recyclables before putting everything out on the curb, Placer County has a “single bin” system: Everything goes into the bin, and it’s sorted out at a facility like the one we were on our way to visit, affectionately known as a “dirty MRF,” pronounced “merf,” which stands for Materials Recovery Facility.
As we drove along, Sondra, our resident recycling expert, told us she had been to the facility three times previously and explained to the newbies what we should expect, including an intense odor.
Once we arrived, Stephanie, our tour guide and an engineer at the facility, directed us to put on some stylish orange vests and a very cool hard hat. Then, after warning us about “The Stink,” we headed out to the main dumping room of the facility.
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t gag a bit at the overpowering smell, but, as Sondra predicted, I got somewhat used to it after a few minutes. The dumping area could best be described as a really dirty warehouse with conveyor belts. Garbage trucks cycled in an out of the warehouse area—you guessed it—dumping all of Western Placer County’s waste right onto the warehouse floor. The waste was loaded onto the conveyor belts to be sorted throughout the MRF, which we were about to see. Before we moved on to the main attraction, we passed by long rows of compost, which are generated at the facility.
Our next stop was the main sorting area, where both machines and humans work together in harmony to rid the world of waste … well, sort of. Stephanie led our group up a flight of stairs (the MRF is divided into multiple levels). While a lot of the trash is sorted by high-tech machines consisting of blowers, magnets, and trapdoors before it gets to the workers, we watched as dozens of workers at different stations sorted through the piles of garbage. Just below me on a lower level was a worker who was sorting through what appeared to be soda cans, but I also saw some CDs, plastic bags, and other miscellaneous items. Directly in front were employees who appeared to be dumping trash onto conveyor belts to be sorted by their co-workers. I took some photos and videos to post on CalRecycle’s Facebook page as we moved through the sorting room and made our way back to the main office area where we had started our tour. Once we were back in the conference room, Stephanie answered questions and told us about safety issues sorters face when working, one of which is getting stuck with used needles that are not supposed to be disposed of in the regular garbage. Talk about dangerous!
I’d be hard-pressed to say I didn’t have fun learning about the journey trash takes after we discard it. While different areas manage and sort their waste and recyclables differently, it’s important for us all to think about what we toss into the garbage and the recycling bin. Just because we’ve pushed it to the curb, or dropped it off at the dump, that doesn’t mean it’s gone—it still needs to be managed in a way that protects the planet.
Check with your local waste hauler (or our handy recycling facility map) to see how to manage tricky materials like used oil, medical sharps, and batteries. Don’t just throw it in the trash! Let’s do our best to keep workers safe while they manage our discards for everyone’s benefit.Posted on In the Loop by TC Clark on Sep 29, 2016
While landfilling is typically considered cheaper than recycling, the costs of recycling do not accurately reflect the money saved by reduced greenhouse gas emissions; money saved by using recycled feedstock as opposed to virgin feedstock in material production; and the money saved on water and fertilizer for agricultural production when organic material is recycled into compost and applied to soil, making it more nutrient-rich and better able to retain moisture.
See the full news release, including a table listing California statewide waste disposal, population, and per resident disposal from 1989 to 2015.Posted on In the Loop by CalRecycle Staff on Jul 21, 2016