John and I have been reading the articles about recycling in The Herald-Tribune recently. We decided we wanted to learn more about how it works. We both learned a lot at Rumpke Waste & Recycling, Cincinnati, and enjoyed this tour (www.rumpke.com).
My most basic question along with others I talked to: Does the stuff in the bins really get recycled or does it get thrown in the landfill? It was answered by the tons of recycled materials crushed and ready to load on railroad cars leaving the Rumpke plant.
Streams of trash coming into the plant are sorted by people and huge machines that variously use weight, heat, magnetism, tossing, etc., to sort the materials. Seeing all the sorting that is done shows why only recyclables should be put in recycle bins. Everything else just slows down the process.
It was interesting to learn that trash collection companies have an incentive to recycle as much trash as possible so their landfills last longer. It takes years for a landfill to be approved for zoning because most parts of the country don’t want new landfills in their area.
One major impression was that plastic bags should be recycled at stores that take them, such as Kroger and Walmart, and not put in bins. The volume of bags in bins is huge. It made me want to use my own bags as much as possible to cut down on the quantity accumulating at our home.
On a recent trip to Myrtle Beach, I found a sandal covered with barnacles on the shore, showing how plastics interfere with marine life. Many other plastics were also headed to sea when the tide went out. Worldwide over 8 million tons of plastic ends up in the ocean each year.
Deb Whitehair, Batesville