Waste Reduction, Recycling & Composting
Plastic "bales" ready for shipment
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.
We’ve all heard the slogan and can instantly identify areas where we have put into practice these very words. But do you wonder where all those recyclables go? Who takes care of sorting all those jumbled glass, plastic, cardboard & newspaper piles? Where? How?
On a field trip to the Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) in Williston, VT, members of the St. Johnsbury Waste Reduction & Recycling Committee got to see first-hand the amazing journey that begins when you decide to recycle.
Since the MRF began using single stream recycling, material recovery has almost doubled. Single stream or all-in-one recycling means that you do not need to sort your recyclables into different bins.
The MRF in Williston currently processes about 60% of all the recycled material in Vermont? What’s even more impressive is the recycling recovery rate – that is, how much of the material brought in is baled and sent to processing plants to be reused. It is over 90%!
From the time the truck dumps the load on the MRF garage floor to the time the material is sorted, baled (using 212 tons of ram force to make a bale) and packaged for delivery, about 20 people work to get that 90% recovery rate in about 30 minutes!! Once sorted and baled, shipments of corrugated cardboard and boxboard are sent to Quebec and New York to make new cardboard, toilet paper & paper towel cores as well as egg cartons.
The #1 PETE plastic bottles are sent to Georgia to make carpets, bottles and fleece clothing. Interesting factoid: It takes 25 plastic bottles to make a fleece jacket.
The #2 HDPE plastic bottles are used for house vapor barrier equipment, plastic lumber and playground equipment.
Aluminum is sent to New York for an end use of … wait for it … aluminum! Did you know that recycling one aluminum can saves enough energy to run a TV for 3 hours, or that is uses 95% less energy than making cans from virgin material?
Another great statistics: thanks to recycling, about 70% of all aluminum ever mined is still being used today – it is an infinitely recyclable resource.
We strongly suggest for those so inclined, please go visit this facility. It will make you think twice about whether you really NEED to buy that 6 pack of Jell-o or maybe just buy a box and make it at home. Or maybe you’ll decide that you can keep a copy of the St. Johnsbury Recyclables Brochure PDF and what can’t be on the inside of your kitchen cupboard for quick reference. Whatever the inspiration, go with it – our kids will thank you.
The MRF has produced a 10-minute video on what they do and how they do it. You can see it on YouTube - click this link.