Follow the Garbage Trail, Twelve Tons at a Time

These days, recycling is so commonplace in most parts of the nation, that it's really considered just part of the entire process of managing and re-purposing more and more of our garbage .... twelve tons at a time. 

That's twelve tons per trailer that never sees the bottom of our landfill. 

And less in the landfill is a very good thing!

In addition to re-using all of that material for future packaging and products, it just makes good financial sense too.

That's because Rutherford County has to pay about $50 per ton to transport all of the county's trash to an outside landfill.

So, instead of paying to haul it to a landfill where it sits forever unused, our recyclable material is now picked up at no cost and turned into useful products once again.

The more we keep out of the landfill, the lower we can keep annual convenience center usage fees.  

Rutherford County residents no longer have to sort their recycling. No matter whether it's paper or plastic, metal or glass all goes in one bin.

And whether your community enjoys the convenience of a weekly curbside recycling service like Lake Lure and Chimney Rock Village, or whether you bring your recycling to one of the county’s ten Convenience Centers,  you still just toss it all in one place and forget it!

It has never been easier to manage your garbage for its new life down the road. 

Okay, but Somebody Still Sorts all that Garbage Somewhere, Right?

Right. And just in case you're wondering who is doing all that sorting, here's a hint: It's not really a who, but rather a what that is sorting it all out for the rest of us. And our own Lake Lure resident Blaine Cox recently set out to see the whole operation in action.

How it Works:

 -   Our recyclables go to the center in Rutherfordton where they are compacted in semi trailers.

-    When a trailer reaches twelve tons of recyclable materials, it is then taken to Republic Services Corporation in Conover at no cost to Rutherford County.  

Best of all, every time that trailer carrying twelve tons of recyclables makes that trip, that's twelve tons that never goes into our landfill. 

Republic Services partners with more than 100 mills and manufacturers worldwide to turn our recyclables into new products like newspaper, cardboard boxes, glass and plastic bottles, tissue, paper towels and metal cans.

-    Once our  recyclables arrive at their facility, they are all placed on the receiving floor of this 49,000 sq. ft. facility and then the sorting process begins. 

-    The system can sort up to 24 tons hourly and is primarily automatic.

 A large loader places a quantity of the unsorted materials on the conveyer belt and the machinery begins to separate the components. 

-   As the sorting continues, personnel stationed along the lines visually check the material and manually redirect items that have not been properly sorted. 

-    Eventually components such as glass, plastics, aluminum, ferrous iron and the various kinds of papers and so on are funneled into compacting areas for sale.

As Blaine tells us, the plant is a little noisy and so ear plugs, hard hats and safety glasses are required.

But, ironically, for a place that is sorting garbage, everything appears very clean.  His tour through the plant took less than an hour.

As Blaine said, "It clearly demonstrates the progress our state has made in saving products from costly landfills that can instead be reprocessed at lower cost than those newly manufactured."

We couldn't agree more. Thanks for the story, Blaine!