Life after the blue (recycling) bin: a visit to the SMURF

7 Feb

During January I visited the Springfield Municipal Recycling Facility (SMURF) as part of the Five-College Environmental Leadership Workshop.  This facility accepts materials for recycling from several municipalities and schools in Western Massachusetts, including Smith College. They use a dual-stream system, which means that they only take pre-sorted items in two categories- in this case, paper and plastic.

ImageThis is where the trucks dump their loads of plastic. Trackers are then used to push the bottles through a small hole onto a conveyor belt to start the sorting process by color and number.

This video clip (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yZBwdTApgR4) shows the beginning steps of the plastic recycling process. Take home message? Don’t include plastic bags with your recyclable plastic containers! (Local stores like Stop and Shop will accept plastic shopping bags for recycling.)

ImageThe sorted plastics are packaged into bales to make it easier to weigh and transport them.

Image

Paper waiting to be transported to a local paper mill where it will be mixed into their production line.

As we walked through the paper storage area a truck came in to unload. This video clip (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-mAuPb6tiRY) shows the vehicle unloading about two tons worth of paper and cardboard. The SMURF receives several such truckloads every day.

-Stefanie Cervantes, ’13

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