|Incoming material gets mixed and then loaded into the single|
Recently, I attended a class called Materials Processing & Marketing presented by the Professional Recyclers of Pennsylvania (PROP) at the Lycoming County Resource Management Services (LCRMS) recycling facility in Montgomery. I thought this was appropriate to share because LCRMS pulls the materials from of our recycling drop-offs and transports them to their facility, where they process them for sale to manufacturers that use them to make recycled products. In essence, they’re our customer (even though we pay them to take our materials), so it can only help our operation if we understand what they do with our materials.
This is especially true considering the recycling systems we use compared with LCRMS. In Snyder County, we source-separate our recyclables, meaning residents separate materials into different containers at home and then put them in various containers at their local recycling drop-off. LCRMS uses a single stream system, where all the materials are placed in a single container.
|Attendees got to work on the processing line to get a feel for|
it. Stuff on the conveyor moves fast when you're pulling off
One of the presenters, Mike Crist, environmental manager for the Clinton County Solid Waste Authority and Wayne Township Landfill, told how source-separating materials results in less contamination, higher quality materials, and more dollars received for them. On the con side, it requires more effort from the generator (residents) and collector (LCRMS). Single stream, on the other hand, offers increased participation and convenience for the resident but at a cost in quality. He went on to say that cat litter and diapers are common contaminants in recycling.
Denny Brewer, recycling supervisor at LCRMS, told us how they have 65 haulers feeding their facility and that their single stream line can process 20 tons/hour of material. As we stood on the tipping floor watching a front-end loader shuffling single stream material around, he explained that single stream works best when material is mixed thoroughly. At the beginning of the line, they hand pre-sort undesirable items such as bags, metal, and oversized materials. Plastic bags, a nemesis to single stream because they get wrapped around conveyor shafts, get sucked off the line and packaged for sale. They also pull off rigid plastics, including large items such as lawn chairs and cat litter buckets, which they sell to markets overseas. Glass goes through a breaker and gets taken out; they pay a company to take it.
To process source-separated materials such as ours, they typically run them through their single stream line, with some exceptions. Source-separated glass is kept separate and run through their old system. They also run more-valuable materials like newsprint separately from single stream. Brewer added that they store some bales of materials in their warehouse until markets improve.
Pete Previte, recycling markets development manager for the Pennsylvania Recycling Markets Center, told us that steel has a recycling rate of 85 percent, largely because the steel industry has promoted recycling. His presentation touched on a host of other points. A slight increase in recycling can increase landfill life significantly. PRMC gets requests for plastics recycling plants since China invoked its National Sword policy to ban importing recyclables. Ford is the largest user of recycled HDPE; they use them for auto parts such as bumpers. Some 19 new paper mills are coming to Pennsylvania. Two plants recycle glass in the state, but they claim they can’t get enough material, so they get it from Iowa. This country averages a 26 percent recycling rate.
The folks at LCRMS complement us on the material they get from us. Let’s keep up the good work and keep improving, mainly by reducing our contamination.
Snyder County Recycling Coordinator
Snyder County Solid Waste Management Authority