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WWRA: Inside the building, how single-stream recycling works

Courtesy photo by Laura Scriven. Dozers move material.

(Chelsea Update would like to thank Laura Scriven for this column and the photos.)

Remember, there will be no pick-up on Thursday, Nov.22, due to Thanksgiving. For those with regular Thursday pick-up, we will be coming by on Tuesday, Nov. 20. The normal schedule will resume the following week on Thursday, Nov. 29.

This week, I made my first trip to the new Western Washtenaw Recycling Authority site, and I had a lot of questions about how single-stream recycling worked.

Courtesy photo by Laura Scriven.

Here’s what I learned. The first stop for materials is the slab floor of the unloading area. There, combined materials were being pushed and scooped by a bulldozer toward the side wall.

Once the bucket was full, the bulldozer moved toward the single-stream line and loaded the hopper with co-mingled materials.

From the hopper, the materials are pulled up a steep incline toward the first sorting station where large, bulky items, and items not suitable for recycling, were sorted and deposited in the proper bins. The materials continued on to a series of stations. Each station was designed to sort out a different type of recyclable material.

Stations are manned to ensure that no materials were overlooked or ended up in the wrong place. Through air, gears, shaking, and sifting, the materials were sorted into their proper bins.

Once enough was collected in a bin to create a bale, which is about 3 feet x 3 feet x 6 feet) the materials were released onto the baler line, baled, and set aside for storage. Bales are stored until a semi-truck load is accumulated.

The speed at which both the machine and people were moving was amazing. At times, hands became blurs as items were collected and pushed into the proper locations.

In the spring, WWRA plans on having scheduled tours to not only learn what happens to the recycled materials after they are picked up at your house, but also to learn more about the importance of recycling to our community, our future, and the future of the planet.

If you have any questions, comments or concerns, please contact me, Laura Scriven at [email protected]

Courtesy photo by Laura Scriven. Materials all sorted.


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