Recycling Lessons From Waste Management’s Miami Plant

At the Reuter Recycling Facility in Pembroke Pines, a big plant that smells vaguely of rubbish, Waste Management gathers recyclable subject material from everywhere Miami-Dade, Broward, and Monroe counties.

Within what is known as the “tipping room,” recycling vans that select up the contents of citizens’ blue packing containers from all throughout South Florida unload a number of metric heaps onto the bottom to be looked after via machines and personnel, and in the long run packed into tight, thousand-pound bales that can be bought to fabrics firms around the continent. (Though different nations acquire recyclables from the U.S., Waste Management, the biggest waste-disposal corporate within the country, got here to an settlement with Greenpeace USA to promote its plastic within North America and nowhere else.)

Nonetheless, in keeping with the newest knowledge from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Miami-Dade’s recycling charge has taken a nosedive, plummeting from 46 % in 2012 to 19 % nowadays. It seems a lot of the fabric introduced in is not recycled as a result of citizens don’t seem to be following tips that duvet what may also be recycled or they are contaminating their recyclables with meals waste, which is able to render a whole bin unusable.

That mentioned, Waste Management group outreach consultant Shiraz Kashar tells New Times that a lot of what is available in does get processed — in the end. During a up to date excursion of the power, Kashir and others at Waste Management shared six recycling classes with New Times which are most probably wonder even essentially the most green-minded rubbish tosser.

click on to amplify Pay attention to the number in the middle of the symbol. - PHOTO BY MARCO VERCH PROFESSIONAL/FLICKR

Pay consideration to the quantity in the course of the emblem.

The Recycling Symbol Doesn’t Mean Something Can Be Recycled

Everyone acknowledges the ever-present 3 arrow image that has been utilized in advertising and marketing campaigns and branding to indicate that one thing is recyclable or made with recycled subject material. But do you know that that is not the true that means of the emblem?

“The arrows actually just let other engineers know what kind of material an item is made out of, but it started getting used for marketing purposes,” Kashir explains. “Just because something has the arrows doesn’t mean it’s recyclable.”

When you notice the emblem on a plastic merchandise, pay extra consideration to the quantity within the center. If it has the quantity “1,” which typically seems on single-use plastic drink bottles, that suggests the thing was once made to be recycled. 

The quantity “2” typically seems on higher-density plastics, equivalent to milk jugs and detergent boxes. These also are protected to recycle, however you should definitely wash them sooner than hanging them within the bin.

The larger numbers, from “3” up, come with PVC plastic, plastic baggage, and Styrofoam. These pieces are typically no longer recyclable. If you are undecided whether or not a selected plastic merchandise may also be recycled, take a look at information on Waste Management’s website online.

click on to amplify Plastic bags can't be recycled and they clog sorting machines. - PHOTO BY JOSHUA CEBALLOS

Plastic baggage cannot be recycled they usually clog sorting machines.

Photo via Joshua Ceballos

Plastic Bags Ruin the Recycling Process

All it takes is a couple of journeys to the grocer and abruptly you have got sufficient plastic baggage to fill a whole kitchen cupboard. While some people like to horde the luggage to reuse later, others would possibly think they may be able to be tossed into the blue bin. After all, they are plastic.

Not most effective can plastic grocery baggage no longer be recycled, however hanging them to your recycling bin in reality complicates recycling when it will get to the plant.

At Waste Management’s facility, a big system with spinning blades is supposed to transport plastic pieces from one house to every other and type them in keeping with weight. But when plastic baggage are put throughout the system, they get tangled within the spinning blades and clog the tool like gum in a bicycle chain.

According to Luis Restrepo, a best manager on the Reuter Recycling Facility, personnel has to close down the sorting system as much as thrice an afternoon simply to take away plastic baggage to stop all the device from failing.

So if you are taking a look to do away with your grocery baggage in a accountable manner, you are taking them again to the shop the place you were given them and asking in the event that they settle for plastic baggage — or just reuse them.

click on to amplify Recycling facilities only accept clear, green, and brown bottles - PHOTO BY CINDY SHEBLY/FLICKR

Recycling amenities most effective settle for transparent, inexperienced, and brown bottles

Glass Is Still Recyclable

When pieces get recycled, the recycling facility processes them with the intention to in the end promote them to different firms that use the pieces as subject material to make new pieces. Each subject material has a value as a commodity, and, naturally, some fabrics are extra precious than others.

Aluminum items, for example, are one of the most most beneficial fabrics as a result of they are simply recyclable into different aluminum merchandise and since that steel is tricky to acquire.

Glass, then again, is a far much less precious commodity and isn’t incessantly introduced again into the availability chain in the similar shape that it was once recycled. Environmentalists counsel reusing glass receptacles moderately than recycling them as a result of they don’t seem to be price a lot to recycling firms.

However, Kashir says, Waste Management in South Florida does recycle glass to be bought — however no longer as bottles.

“Glass is tricky. Not many plants accept recycled glass because it has a higher-than-usual cost due to waste contamination,” he explains. “We promote our glass to Strategic Materials Inc. in Sarasota.”

According to Kashir, the glass product Waste Management sells to Strategic Materials is used in sandblasting and as a cement additive. In some circumstances, glass components are used to fill in potholes at landfills brought about via the consistent float of vans coming out and in to offload waste. So, in some way, glass does finally end up at a landfill — simply no longer with the trash.

For those that plan to recycle glass, Kashir stresses that recycling amenities most effective settle for transparent, inexperienced, and brown bottles. (Blue glass bottles cannot be recycled owing to the presence of cobalt.)

click on to amplify Workers sort through recyclable material on a conveyor belt, taking out contaminated or unusable items and prioritizing the more valuable materials. - PHOTO BY JOSHUA CEBALLOS

Workers kind thru recyclable subject material on a conveyor belt, casting off infected or unusable pieces and prioritizing the extra precious fabrics.

Photo via Joshua Ceballos

Labor Shortages Are Affecting Recycling Plants

Not even the recycling industry is resistant to hard work shortages post-pandemic, and the Reuter facility in Pembroke Pines is taking a look to fill vacant positions. Where a sorting room used to have a complete personnel to select contamination and unrecyclable subject material from an meeting line, now only some staff are to be had to pick out throughout the incoming waste. This forces personnel to prioritize high-value recyclables at the meeting line.

“Labor issues have been a problem,” Restrepo, the pinnacle manager, tells New Times. “There’s so much contamination, we can’t keep up.”

click on to amplify Out of a 15-ton load of material brought in, Restrepo estimates that up to nine tons can wind up being contaminated. - PHOTO BY OLLE SVENSSON/FLICKR

Out of a 15-ton load of subject material introduced in, Restrepo estimates that as much as 9 heaps can finish up being infected.

Wishing Something Can Be Recycled Doesn’t Make It So

Speaking of contamination: Miami-Dade County’s charge is so dangerous — 49 % of what Miami-Dade citizens recycle is infected — {that a} consulting company employed to inspect the county’s recycling program advisable acting a brand new find out about as a result of they might infrequently encountered the sort of horrendous statistic.

Out of a 15-ton load of subject material introduced in, Restrepo estimates that as much as 9 heaps finish up being infected.

Much of the contamination occurs on account of “wish cycling,” through which folks throw nearly the rest into the bin as a result of they suspect it could be recyclable, with out in reality checking to look whether it is.

In the “tipping room” at Reuter, a truckload from Hialeah contained myriad items that had been certainly not helpful except for eliciting a couple of chuckles, together with a plastic Santa Claus, a cooking pot, an enormous container of antifreeze, and 2 coconuts.

In order to cut back contamination in your home, the most efficient plan of action is to seem up what fabrics can in reality be recycled inside of your municipality and most likely print out a visible information as a family reminder. If you are undecided about one thing, glance it up, and if you’ll’t in finding it, throw it within the trash moderately than put it with the recycling and destroy the bunch.

click on to amplify Bales of recyclables are separated by material: paper, cardboard, plastic, and aluminum. One bale can weigh over 1,000 pounds. - PHOTO BY JOSHUA CEBALLOS

Bales of recyclables are separated via subject material: paper, cardboard, plastic, and aluminum. One bale can weigh over 1,000 kilos.

Photo via Joshua Ceballos

Wash (or At Least Rinse) Recyclables Before Putting Them within the Bin

Tossing meals boxes within the recycling bin with out washing them spoils the nice subject material that another way would possibly were recycled. When there are fewer staff to kind thru the entire infected subject material, unwashed pieces make it tougher for the restricted personnel to salvage with the intention to decrease the county’s emerging contamination charge.

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