Orlando recycles it’s recycling by replacing small bins with big carts
EST, November 12, 2012By Kevin Spear, Orlando Sentinel
For Orlando residents familiar with dropping cans, bottles and plastic into one recycling bin and newspapers and other wastepaper into another, that household ritual is about to be recycled into something shiny and new.
On Wednesday, starting in southeast Orlando and continuing throughout the city until early January, crews will del adidas predator iver to homes nearly 24,000 rolling carts that, while they resemble the garbage carts now used by residents, will instead replace the smaller, red and blue recycling bins.
Instructions attached to the carts will tell residents to toss all of their recyclable stuff into the one cart with no trash or yard waste! Also in the instructions will be the day, once every two weeks, when the cart is to be rolled to the curb for collection by a truck with a mechanical arm.
The solid waste industry calls this “single stream” re adidas predator cycling. Orlando calls it “single c adidas predator art.” But it’s more than a simple change in how recycling is done at home; adidas predator officials say it’s going to reduce the amount of garbage now buried every year in Orange County’s landfill.
Jimmy Rodriguez, manager of Waste Management Inc.’s Recycle America processing facility at the county landfill, said the city of Orlando’s conversion to single cart recycling will help nearly double the 33,000 tons of recyclable material already diverted to his facility each year.
“Absolutely, it will increase,” said Rodriguez, who is happy to get all that he can. “It’s money.”
The upside to using the red and blue bins was that the recycled stuff was presorted to a degree and easier to handle. The small, open bins were also less likely to be improperly used for garbage disposal.
The downside is that there’s only so much room in the two bins, and the limited space meant a considerable amount of recyclable material has been tossed instead into the big garbage cart.
But the rolling recycling carts which will come in teal or burgundy to distinguish them from the black garbage carts have a 96 gallon capacity. More volume means more recycling, according to industry experts.
According to the state Department of Environmental Protection, single cart recycling is increasingly popular in Florida.
Already, several local communities do it, including Apopka, Lake Mary and Kissimmee. Orlando will be the biggest city in the region to convert, and Orange County is planning a pilot program to evaluate the process.
When Waste Management’s Recycle America plant in east Orange County was established 22 years ago, it relied on people to pick through the waste stream to make sure the metal, glass, plastic and paper were separated from one another.
But in 2005, a German made contraption was installed at the plant that automated the separation process in remarkable fashion.
One recent morning at the facility, a pile of commingled glass, plastic, cans and newspapers towered 25 to 30 feet high a mass of messy refuse that looked all but solidified and impenetrable.
It was also “contaminated,” meaning it contained things that shouldn’t have been there such as garden hoses, blankets, chunks of foam, and computer parts. Most striking were the countless plastic grocery bags, fluttering in the breeze like small flags.
“Plastic bags are the enemy,” said Alan Morrison, a Waste Management manager, because the grocery bags tend to jam the sorting equipment, causing shutdowns.
When the equipment is running as ordered, a front loader tractor scoops recycled material onto a conveyor leading to machines where spinning disks sort paper and cardboard, magnets grab steel cans, bottles are broken into glass gravel, electric current snatches away aluminum and a screen sends plastic jugs in one direction and water bottles in another.
The material, once Waste Management sells it, can be reincarnated in various ways: plastic bottles turned into carpet, newspapers reborn as pizza boxes and aluminum forged into new cans that appear on store shelves in just weeks.
Waste Management pays a fee for using landfill property, and the company doesn’t get a subsidy when prices for its material drop.
Waste Management “has the markets, and it’s up to them to keep the material moving out,” said Jim Becker, manager of the county run landfill.
Most important: Stuff that’s recycled is stuff not sent to the landfill at a disposal cost of nearly $40 a ton. In Orlando’s case, that’s nearly 8,000 tons a year of recycled material now and an estimated 12,000 tons a year once the rolling carts are in use.
Orlando’s solid waste manager, Mike Carrol, said recycling still comes with a price nearly $5 a month per home. The rolling carts cost nearly $1 million, though the city will eventually save $200,000 a year by getting rid of its specialized recycling trucks and switching to its fleet of trash haulers, which are equipped with mechanical arms, he said.