Recycling Without Sorting
Reported October, 2007
Elkridge, N.Y -- Recycling programs have been underway for years, but Americans still lag behind on recycling efforts. The biggest reason -- it's inconvenient.
If you recycle, you know the drill ... separate ... separate ,,, separate ...
"In the early years, we've had to separate things fairly significantly," recycler Steve Snowden says.
Now, Snowden's separating days are over. A new program called "Single Stream Recycling" allows you to put all recycle items into one container.
"We like it quite a bit because it is so easy," Snowden says.
Leaving the rest of the work up to someone else!
"We do the separation to mechanically separate the materials here at the recycling facility," says Michael Taylor, environmental scientist from Waste Management Recycle America, who developed the system.
Fast, rotating devices separate newspaper and cardboard from cans and glass that tumble to another level. Magnets grab metal cans and optical scanners recognize plastic from other items and trigger blasts of air to blow plastic into another bin.
"Highly engineered, highly complex mechanical systems do the work in a much more efficient, much more cost effective and much more significantly faster-paced environment," Taylor explains.
Environmental scientists have seen an increase in recycling of almost 30-percent among homeowners who use the system.
"We're much more liable to do something the easier it is to do it," Snowden says.
There are 27 Waste Management Recycle America "Single Stream Recycling" facilities in the country. There are also other recycling organizations that use Single Stream.
The Materials Research Society and the Optical Society of America contributed to the information contained in the TV portion of this report.
Click here to Go Inside This Science or contact:
Director of Communications
Waste Management Inc.
Materials Research Society
Warrendale, PA 15086-7573
Optical Society of America
Washington, DC 20036-1023
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