A Word About Recycling with Ollie Maier

When we think of the workers having to sort through the mixed recycled material that comes from Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) to the Materials Recovery Facility (MRF), we feel for them. Often they have to work with items not-to-clean and/or somewhat dangerous – broken glass, sharp objects, etc.

Thus an item in a recent Resource Recovery eNewsletter caught my eye. While it refers to events in other states, we feel it is a step in the right direction which could come to Texas too.

The article started, “Nine robots and seven optical sorters will operate at a mixed-waste processing facility coming to South Carolina.”

When the nine robots and seven optical sorters are operational early next year, approximately 50 tons per hour of mixed waste will be processed. The operation “will separate recyclables for marketing and prepare non-recyclable materials for use as energy generation.”

With China’s new restrictive policy on what recyclables they will accept, many communities are wondering how to best manage recycling materials without opting to send things – such as paper, plastic and other valuable commodities – that had previously been recycled to the landfill.

Through the use of optical sorters and robots with artificial intelligence, the facility will be able to provide a clean stream of materials without the need for manual sorters. These robots will be utilized in each sorting position on the container line.

And in a separate project in Maine, we find a 180,000-ton-per-year mixed-waste facility is in the works.

“Financed by $45 million in tax-exempt bonds and $25 million in private equity, the facility will serve 83 municipalities and other public entities in eastern and northern Maine.”

Upon getting mixed waste from municipal customers, the facility separates recyclable commodities for sale and generates clean cellulose, engineered fuels and biogas from non-recyclable materials. Sounds like another great project.

Switching to America’s largest city, New York City, another interesting item is moving forward, with a plan to shift the financial burden of garbage collection from taxpayers to ratepayers. This will be a pay-as-you-throw (PAYT) billing and collection service structure.

The city currently uses tax revenues to pay to collect and ship garbage out. This means for many households, the, garbage service feels free.

“A PAYT program, which the city is calling ‘save as you throw,’ would give households financial incentive to move materials from their garbage to recycling. Households would pay a rate for garbage service, with larger garbage volumes costing them more.”

However, still to be determined is how such a program will work in a city dominated by renters in apartment buildings.

And finally for today, an item from a Waste Age eNewsletter which really caught our eye only because of the proposed huge increase in tipping fees in Michigan.

“Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder is proposing an increased tipping fee at landfills to fund toxic site cleanups and water quality monitoring.”

His proposal would raise $70 million annually through a 1,200 percent increase on tipping fees. The tipping fees would increase from an average of 36 cents to – an almost unbelievable to us – $4.75. The governor also believes it would help to improve recycling, market development and education. With increases like that, let’s hope he doesn’t come to Texas.

Till next week, do have a great one...

--Ollie is a local citizen concerned with the environment and helping others. A retired Air Force fighter and instructor pilot, he is a graduate of Leadership San Marcos and received his degrees at Texas State University where he worked on staff before totally retiring. For questions or comments, he invites you to call him at 512-353-7432 or e-mail omaier@txstate.edu.

San Marcos Daily Record

(512) 392-2458
P.O. Box 1109, San Marcos, TX 78666