Wednesday April 25th was an exciting day for Recycling Club. We started out by taking a tour of the Ulster County Resource Recovery Agency (UCRRA) and later on had our biggest event of the semester–the Earth Day Carnival!
UCRRA is both a recycling facility and a transfer station. This means that some materials are recycled on site while others are transported to a landfill or another recycling facility. Once the trash arrives at UCRRA it is put back on a truck and travels 25o miles to the nearest landfill! That’s a long distance for something to be put in a landfill and the UCRRA can have anywhere from 9 to 15 trucks of trash a day depending on the time of year. The other component of transporting is single-stream recycling. This type of recycling combines all recycling (paper, plastic, cardboard, aluminum, etc.) into one receptacle. There are both benefits and consequences to this type of recycling; one positive outcome is the recycling rates usually rise after single-stream is introduced but a negative outcome is people sometimes throw trash into the bin which contaminates the entire bin and none of the contents can be recycled. The UCRRA does not have the capabilities to process single-stream recycling so is it shipped off to the Albany recycling facility.
The sorting process at UCRRA is fascinating. The commingle recyclables come through on a conveyor belt and are first inspected to make sure all of the items are actually recyclable. Then there is a large magnet which attracts the steel cans and places them in a separate bin. The recyclables continue on to be sorted by their plastic number so there is a bin for each number 1, 2, 4, 5, and 7. These are sorted by workers at UCRRA and finally the aluminum cans are actually repelled by a large magnet into their own bin. After everything is sorted into their proper bin the contents are condensed into large bails which can then be easily transported. The bails all look about the same size but actually weigh out very different. A bail of cardboard weighs about 1400 pounds, plastics are about 1200 pounds a bail, aluminum weighs around 900 pounds a bail and steel weighs about 1200 pounds per bail! The bails are sorted by their contents are then are shipped once they have a full truckload to a facility that re-purposes the goods.
Along the way we learned some fun facts such as:
- Most of the recycling comes from commercial facilities, not residential, and this includes hospitals, schools, and office buildings.
- 159 tons of trash a year are travel through UCRRA.
- 73.911 tons of recycling are processed each year by UCRRA.
- This creates a rate of about 32% of waste is recycled.
Later on that day, Recycling Club hosted its 3rd Annual Earth Day Carnival! The carnival featured games such as biodegradable breakdown, Plinko, Recycling Never Have I ever, and a trivia game. We also had a few activity booths where people could get their face painted, plant a flower or vegetable, get their nails painted, or make a craft out of recycled materials. The materials for the craft table came from old cds and magazine paper which combined to make beautiful window decorations and jewelry. Some of the prizes we raffled off were t-shirts, pencil pouches made from Kool-Aid drink pouches, a Burt’s Bees Kit, tote bags, a Brita filter, a gift card to Moxie Cupcake and more! Our grand prize was a bicycle.
The carnival was a success and thank you to all who helped or came out to play the games!
To see pictures from this event go and like “New Paltz Recycles” or follow this link: http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150689211532750.395038.195052437749&type=1