Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Recycling Center Tips: empty your bottles

My camera and I recently spent a morning visiting our Recycling Center's Operations Manager. I wanted to find out more about those "thanks, but no" items -- things which residents send to the Recycling Center, but which we cannot accept.

In preparation for my visit, Recycling Center staff had pulled aside a pile of items for me to see. Sporting my borrowed hard hat, I strode out onto the tipping floor with the manager. This is the area in which the recycling trucks which collect material from your blue bins and wheeled paper carts dump, or tip, their contents.

The time passed quickly as we proceeded through our show-and-tell; it was fascinating to hear about the do's and don'ts of Montgomery County's recycling program from the manager's very practical operations perspective. My many questions were answered patiently, and I completely filled my camera's memory card with photos. I look forward to sharing my learnings with you in a series of "Recycling Center Tips" blog entries.

flattened plastic bottles in a puddleThe day of my visit was pleasant and sunny, with few clouds wafting about. It had not rained in several days. Yet, a large puddle covered a section of floor quite a distance from the building entrance. Puzzling... what could possibly have been the source?

When the sorting workers find bottles with water, juice, or soda remaining inside, they pull these bottles aside. When the bottle container is full, it is dumped out on the tipping floor. The front-end loader then runs over the bottles, crushing them, and allowing the liquids to drain out... thus forming the puddle I saw.

The crushed, and now empty, bottles are then put back onto the conveyer belts for sorting.

Tip: please empty beverage bottles before adding them to your blue bin.