Just near Spokane’s airport lies a three-story-tall green machine. Its conveyer belts, claws, wheels, walkways and neon-clad workers sort the 100,000 tons of recyclables per year that pour in from the county and surrounding cities.
The machine is housed in a facility called the SMaRT Recycling Center, and it’s where Spokane’s recycling goes after its curbside pickup.
Earth Day marks a good time to change some habits and make recycling easier. Here are five tips to speed the process at your local recyclery:
Don’t put plastic bags in the recycling. The sorting machine’s spinning claws get tangled with it, and workers have to shut the it down a couple times a day to crawl over it with box cutters and cut it away.
Don’t mix shredded paper with other recyclables. The shredded paper can’t pass through the machine’s sorters. It’s better to throw it away, which is unfortunate, according to Waste Management spokesman Steven Gimpel. But commercial customers can bring clean shredded paper, not mixed with other materials, to the SMaRT Center and it will end up with the recycled paper.
Glass can’t actually be recycled, but that doesn’t mean you should throw it away. Glass recycled in Spokane is either landfilled or used as gravel for roads. That’s because it costs too much to ship glass to a facility that can handle it, and incinerating the stuff causes a host of other problems. If you want to circumnavigate the recycling process – which can see glass ground into other recyclable materials, again gumming up the works – you can take your bottles directly to the Waste to Energy Facility, where it won’t need to be sorted out by the machine at the SMaRT Center.
Take plastic caps off of bottles. The bottle caps fly off the bottle and land in other material’s piles.
Don’t put electronic waste in the recycling containers. Workers have to pull them out of the stream. Instead, bring them to places in Spokane like Earthworks Recycling at 1904 E. Broadway Ave., Inland ReTech at 7203 E. Nora Ave or Recycle Techs at 6810 E. Appleway Blvd.
Don’t recycle wax-coated paper because the facility can’t separate the materials. It goes in the trash instead.
For more information go to http://wmnorthwest.com/smartrecycling/.
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