Non Recyclable and Dangerous Materials Prevent Safe Recycling Reports Hauling Austin
Santa Fe recycling station wrought with excess waste in recycling process
The job isn't exactly safe. The materials are delivered from a chute and glass bottles can come tumbling down, shattering as they reach the conveyor belt. The broken glass hides amongst the garbage along with other items like hypodermic needles and other items that could puncture the gloved worker's hands.
Sadly, much of the items people attempt to recycle are not even recyclable. The containers for berries and small tomatoes and yogurt cups frequently get tossed in a recycle bin, only to end up in the trash at the recycle center. These items take time and resources away from the gloved hands that sift through the mess attempting to retrieve plastics, metals and other goods. For plastics, only plastic bottles marked with a number 1 or 2 are accepted by the Santa Fe Solid Waste Management Agency.
The belt starts with two workers who use brooms to spread the materials out. Next there are plates that spin and lift away much of the cardboard and send the other materials down the conveyor belt to be sorted. Aluminum soda and beer cans are magnetically pulled out of the garbage by a powerful magnet which also has a spinning belt. Workers jokingly call it "La Cabra" (the goat) stating that the cans that miss the magnetic pull are tossed back to the magnet in an effort to feed the "animal." After these processes, the materials are placed in chambers below the chutes and are transported to another room for packaging and once packaged, they are stacked up until the director decides it is time to sell the materials.
For residents within the Santa Fe city limits, curbside pickup of recyclables happens next to an ordinary trash pickup service. Those outside the city limits do not have that option and must turn in recyclables by hand. However, there are private companies that will pick up recyclables along with the trash of those residents for a fee. Some citizens who don't even live far from the city limits are unable or unwilling to pay for such services and hope that the city either annexes their area or makes exceptions and extends the routes to these neighboring areas. So far, hopes of this have fallen flat while many inside the city limits have had recyclables ending up in landfills.
In response to much of this, Santa Fe County has recently created a task force in order to strategize on how to increase recycling for residents. Officials say the county is attempting to combat the wasteful habits and find out how to keep recyclables out of city landfills. Many other ideas are being thrown around like using one private company to handle all the collection and recycling. A commissioner who works on the task force said this would help the city set down rules for the citizens to follow. Although sorting this situation out is messy business, their need for recycling can have many positive results. One result that is easily seen is an increase in city funding and a decrease in the cost of manufacturing goods by using these recycled materials.
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