Monday, June 24, 2013


 A MRF is a materials recovery facility - in this case one of the biggest in the country with a massive automated sorting system. They receive and sort material from as far away as NM and WY.
Katie gave me a tour of the Waste Management MRF
Ft. Collins & other municipalities bale their commingled items and truck them to this MRF

safety first!

this is the tipping floor where all the city trucks dump the commingled items
that's all aluminum on the left. each cube weighs about 1500lbs
 Aluminum is the single item that is the easiest to make back into another can. 100% recyclable. These bricks represent nearly 53,500 crushed cans and it will sell for about $1200-1500.
most often all the non 1&2 plastics get baled together and sold as mixed plastic
Learning that 3-7 get baled together was a bummer. The reality is that markets for this plastics are either non existent or highly volatile. The best thing to do is NOT to buy any product made from #3-7. Or take it one step farther and challenge yourself to not buy any plastics. #1-2 have much more reliable markets but only are getting down cycled and not made back into more plastic containers.
inside the MRF I followed Katie around as she explained the sorting

even though it's automated, human sorting is still a big part of the process
glass is rarely made back into glass again because of contamination issues.
 Since it comes out at the end of the overall sorting cycle, there ends up being a lot of plastics and caps and other bits of stuff that prevents most glass buyers from buying this quality of crushed glass. Container glass in general is easy to make into glass again if it's properly sorted by color and not run through the MRF.
can you spot the two glaring contaminants in this photo?
Katie said that plastic bags of all types and VCR tapes cause the most damage to the sorting system and are NOT accepted at their facility. So it's best to not put your mixed recyclables at home in plastic bags and then put those in your curbside bin. I learned a lot and the one lesson that was reenforced is to BUY as little as possible. Recycling is going to save us. Cutting our consumption is the most effective way to reduce our footprint on this planet.
Cardboard & mixed paper bales go to market by rail.

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