Glass, aluminum and paper: What happens to all that recycled material?

5 months 1 week 14 hours ago Tuesday, March 14 2017 Mar 14, 2017 Tuesday, March 14, 2017 8:28:30 PM CDT March 14, 2017 in News
By: Emily Rackers, KOMU 8 Reporter
loading

COLUMBIA - Many people may bag up their recycling, leave it on the curb and then promptly forget about it. But there's a lot that happens with all that plastic, glass and cardboard before it's done.

The Columbia recycling facility gets a steady flow of recycled materials, with a slight increase right before the holiday, said Waste Minimization Coordinator Ben Kreitner.

The materials come in through the tipping floor and are sorted into a dual stream recycling system with one stream for mixed containers, including plastics and aluminum, and one stream for mixed fibers like cardboard and paper.

Many cities only have one stream because it is considered to be more efficient and automated. It’s possible that the new facility that Columbia Waste Management hopes to build will have the single stream.

The facility opened in 2004 off of Brown School Road on the north side of Columbia. The road leading to the building is made of recycled glass asphalt, and crosses Hinkson creek on a small bridge.

One thing the center gets a lot of are those iconic blue recycling bags. But, ironically, they are not recyclable. They’re made of plastic film.

“We tell people that if you pick up a piece of plastic and it loses its shape, it’s probably plastic film,” Kreitner said.

Plastic film and Styrofoam #6 are the only types of plastic that the Columbia facility is unable to recycle.

As the materials move up the dual streams, 3 to 5 workers will begin sorting the material. They wear Teflon gloves, sleeves and closed-toed shoes to protect themselves from injury. Needles, broken glass and sharp edges are daily work hazards, and each worker must be careful.

On the containers side, workers sort plastic into plastics 1, plastics 2 and plastics 3-7.

“We started accepting 3 through 7 plastic about two years ago,” Kreitner said, “but it’s not as marketable or profitable as other materials.”

Trash is thrown away in large plastic bins next to each worker. At the end of the conveyor belt, a magnet pulls the aluminum off the line to be sorted into its own pile. The magnet is 96 to 98 percent effective, depending on the day.

On the other side, workers sort the various fiber products into piles of different types of paper and cardboard. Cardboard is the most recycled material in Columbia, but isn’t the most profitable. Aluminum is three times as valuable as cardboard recycling because it is melted down and none goes to waste.

After all the materials have been sorted, skid loaders scoop the piles onto a conveyor that runs through the baler. Each bale weighs around 1400 pounds, depending on the material. Cardboard and plastic bales are moved to outdoor tents, while paper and aluminum bales stay inside.

The facility sells bales using a bidding system. Companies, mostly from Kansas City and St. Louis, agree to buy all the bales of a certain material for about a year.

The city currently doesn’t have a buyer for recycled glass, which is harder to produce because it must be 99.8 percent pure glass. Right now, the city uses some of the glass to cover the landfill. The landfill must be covered daily by soil, or by an alternative daily cover, like glass.

“While the goal of the recycling facility is to break even every year, the real savings comes from keeping material out of the landfill,” Kreitner said.

 

 

 

More News

Grid
List
ST. JOSEPH (AP) — Two men face felony charges after shots were fired at police during a vehicle pursuit in... More >>
1 hour ago Monday, August 21 2017 Aug 21, 2017 Monday, August 21, 2017 1:55:15 PM CDT August 21, 2017 in News
CHILLCOTHE (AP) — Authorities are investigating after an officer was involved in a shooting in northern Missouri. The St.... More >>
1 hour ago Monday, August 21 2017 Aug 21, 2017 Monday, August 21, 2017 1:43:00 PM CDT August 21, 2017 in News
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Authorities are investigating after an off-duty officer was killed and a woman was wounded at... More >>
1 hour ago Monday, August 21 2017 Aug 21, 2017 Monday, August 21, 2017 1:31:00 PM CDT August 21, 2017 in News
LEE'S SUMMIT (AP) — Police in suburban Kansas City are on the hunt for a man accused of stealing a... More >>
1 hour ago Monday, August 21 2017 Aug 21, 2017 Monday, August 21, 2017 1:19:00 PM CDT August 21, 2017 in News
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Attorneys for a condemned Missouri inmate warn that the state is preparing to execute a potentially... More >>
2 hours ago Monday, August 21 2017 Aug 21, 2017 Monday, August 21, 2017 12:51:00 PM CDT August 21, 2017 in News
ANNAPOLIS (AP) — Authorities in eastern Missouri's Iron County are investigating a shooting death in a rural area. Th... More >>
3 hours ago Monday, August 21 2017 Aug 21, 2017 Monday, August 21, 2017 10:57:00 AM CDT August 21, 2017 in News
CAMDEN COUNTRY - The Camden County Sheriff's Office is asking for the public's help identifying two people who stole a... More >>
4 hours ago Monday, August 21 2017 Aug 21, 2017 Monday, August 21, 2017 10:14:00 AM CDT August 21, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - Clouds dissipated enough for many people in mid-Missouri to get a good view of the total solar eclipse.... More >>
6 hours ago Monday, August 21 2017 Aug 21, 2017 Monday, August 21, 2017 7:58:00 AM CDT August 21, 2017 in Eclipse Events
BOWLING GREEN (AP) — A rural northeast Missouri man is charged with fatally shooting his stepson. Pike County... More >>
8 hours ago Monday, August 21 2017 Aug 21, 2017 Monday, August 21, 2017 6:53:54 AM CDT August 21, 2017 in Continuous News
SEDALIA - A trespasser was hit and killed by an Amtrak train near the Sedalia train station Sunday evening. ... More >>
9 hours ago Monday, August 21 2017 Aug 21, 2017 Monday, August 21, 2017 5:52:00 AM CDT August 21, 2017 in News
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Rural Missouri is preparing for its moment in the sun. Check that: Its moment out of... More >>
10 hours ago Monday, August 21 2017 Aug 21, 2017 Monday, August 21, 2017 4:25:00 AM CDT August 21, 2017 in Continuous News
BOONE COUNTY - Columbia Police arrested Christopher Moore Sunday night after a standoff that began in the afternoon, according to... More >>
15 hours ago Sunday, August 20 2017 Aug 20, 2017 Sunday, August 20, 2017 11:39:00 PM CDT August 20, 2017 in Continuous News
CALLAWAY COUNTY - While many people are preparing to look into the sky for the eclipse Monday, one airport is... More >>
20 hours ago Sunday, August 20 2017 Aug 20, 2017 Sunday, August 20, 2017 6:01:00 PM CDT August 20, 2017 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - The once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see a total solar eclipse drew people to Jefferson City over the weekend... More >>
21 hours ago Sunday, August 20 2017 Aug 20, 2017 Sunday, August 20, 2017 5:55:00 PM CDT August 20, 2017 in News
FERGUSON (AP) — A Missouri lawmaker who temporarily posted a Facebook comment expressing hope that President Donald Trump would be... More >>
23 hours ago Sunday, August 20 2017 Aug 20, 2017 Sunday, August 20, 2017 3:51:00 PM CDT August 20, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - The total solar eclipse is coming on the fifth day of school, and Columbia teachers are trying to... More >>
1 day ago Sunday, August 20 2017 Aug 20, 2017 Sunday, August 20, 2017 2:38:00 PM CDT August 20, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - Researchers are getting ready for the solar eclipse on Aug. 21. Not only will they be watching the... More >>
1 day ago Sunday, August 20 2017 Aug 20, 2017 Sunday, August 20, 2017 1:22:00 PM CDT August 20, 2017 in News
KANSAS CITY (AP) — Police in Kansas City say a man pushing his disabled car on Interstate 70 was killed... More >>
1 day ago Sunday, August 20 2017 Aug 20, 2017 Sunday, August 20, 2017 1:14:03 PM CDT August 20, 2017 in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 87°
3pm 90°
4pm 88°
5pm 86°
6pm 85°

Select a station to view its upcoming schedule:

Coming Up Next

2:00p
The Dr. Oz Show
3:00p
Dr. Phil
4:00p
Jeopardy!
2:30p
Judge Alex
3:00p
The Robert Irvine Show
4:00p
Cops Reloaded

Tonight's Schedule

7:00p
American Ninja Warrior
9:00p
Midnight, Texas
7:00p
Supergirl
8:00p
Hooten & the Lady
9:00p
KOMU 8 News @ Nine on The CW
9:30p
Seinfeld