Watch a video below. Photos by Bob Conrad. Video by Dana Nollsch.
Have you ever wondered what happens to your recycling after the truck picks it up from the curb at your house?
We were treated to a tour of Waste Management’s Eco Center recycling facility, and it was enlightening indeed. Waste Management’s Kendra Kostelecky guided us on an informative walk around the facility.
Recycling has a long history in the United States that dates back to the 1690s when cotton and linen were recycled to make paper for newspapers and Bibles. During World War II the recycling efforts were focused on the war effort. The first curbside pickup of recyclables appeared in the ’60s, and in the ’70s the United States saw the Green Movement take shape, bringing the base of much of what we now see in the world of recycling.
This brings us to today. Every other week in the Truckee Meadows the big trucks make their way to your house to empty your recycling can. What happens from there is a mystery to most of us. On the tour of the recycling facility, we were given a clearer picture of what happens after that truck picks up the recyclables from our curbs.
The basics are simple: pick up stuff, sort stuff, and take stuff to the processing facilities. As we found out, the execution is a bit more complicated than that.
What struck me were the machines that automate as much of the process as possible. Even with the complex machines there is still a lot of sorting that has to be done by human hands.
According to Kostelecky, the process can be helped by us. We all should take the time to educate ourselves on what is recyclable and what is just trash. In the video she gives us some examples and more detailed information can be found here: http://reno.wm.com/faqs/
Some of the points I walked away with are: shredded paper cannot go through the normal sorting process, but newspaper and sheets of paper are fine, we do not have to clean glass products before we put them in the can just as long as they are empty. Grass and yard clippings are not to be put in the recycling can.
Check out the video for more helpful information, and go to the Waste Management website for even more helpful hints.