Have you ever wondered what happens to your recyclables after you place them in the bin? Where do they go next? What will become of them? For most of us, it’s out of sight out of mind. But part of becoming a more eco-conscious person getting in touch with our communities and the world around us. We know the law that for every action there is an opposite and equal reaction and all things on this planet are interconnected. But since we “know” we are doing a “good” thing by recycling, and sometimes our thoughts stop there.
Each year during RecycleMania students take the time learn more about recycling firsthand by taking a tour of the Monroe County Recycling Center. The center is primarily a sorting operation where material is separated, baled, and sent out to be recycled. We are fortunate enough to have recyclers in the greater Rochester/Western New York area so that items do need to travel far to be recycled. Keeping business local is more economical since it keeps the fuel costs in transportation down. Of course, using fewer fossil fuels is better for the planet as well.
Seeing the two large conveyor systems in action within the facility is truly amazing. Mixed recyclables travel up the conveyor and go through a magnetic separator that pulls the metal cans from the rest of the recyclable containers and drops them to a bin below. Then the conveyor moves through an air “knife” to blow off plastic, sending it to its own separation line, other containers are hand-sorted. Small mixed-color broken glass falls through a screen, is crushed in a grinder, and goes to a separate outdoor bin with the rest of the glass. Once material is baled it goes to various companies to be processed, recycled, and ultimately resold as new products in the market.
Take a look at the pictures from our 2012 tour at: http://www.facebook.com/#!/media/set/?set=a.10150713665414714.450246.289455824713&type=3 . While you are there, if you have not “liked” UR Sustainable on Facebook yet, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? It is a great way to stay connected.
What else are students doing to promote RecycleMania this year? For starters, they have created a Facebook page of their own to help publicize events and activities. They have painted the tunnels, and are doing random “Get Caught Green Handed” events where they reward fellow students with prizes for recycling. Check out the latest RecycleMania flyer available on the University’s Sustainability webpage. Feel free to print, post, and share it, but then remember to reuse and recycle that piece of paper when the competition has ended! Check out the video fun created by student group, Grassroots, with the help of our mascot, Rocky: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zkM_3RDoWxM!
The Green Dandelion will be sure to keep you updated throughout the duration of RecycleMania!