It’s garbage day and the blue recycling bins are out on the street. Do you ever wonder what happens to the garbage in them?
We went to S.U.N.R.I.S.E.’s Resource Recovery site in Ilium Valley. Jonathan Greenspan, owner of S.U.N.R.I.S.E. (San Juan Uncompahgre National Resource Recovery Industrial Services for the Environment), took us on a tour of the site. Employees from S.U.N.R.I.S.E. come around on garbage day and collect the garbage from the blue recycling bins on the street. They sort it into glass, cans, plastic, cardboard, and paper, and take it to the Ilium Valley site. The plastic, paper, cardboard, glass, and cans are then sent out to be recycled at other places.
They have a compactor, forklift and much more at their site. They are building an office made out of 87 percent recycled material in the yard. There was a woodchipping machine and several piles of different sized woodchips. The collection center recycles wood into mulch and small wood chips that can be used in your flowerbeds. They put old wooden pallets and wooden boards onto a conveyor belt. The wood chipper grinds them up and shoots them out as chips. The largest chips can be used for playground base or ground cover in your yard. Some of the chips are sent through the machine again and made smaller, and then mixed with dirt to make mulch for gardening. The chips and mulch are put into large plastic bags and sold in stores.
There were several piles of different sized logs. Some of the logs are split for firewood, the longer ones are used to make fences. The cardboard is bundled into large bales, like hay bales, before being sent out for recycling. Newspapers are sent to a paper mill in Idaho to be recycled and made into new paper. There was a huge container that they were making compost in.
One of the interesting things they do with old food from the Bluegrass and other festivals is to compost it and mix it with the wood chips to make mulch.
The three Rs of recycling are reduce, reuse, recycle. Recycling turns old materials into new products. Everybody should recycle because landfills are filling fast. More than three-quarters of everything put in landfills can be recycled. Resource recovery is good because what we throw away gets reused instead of being put into landfills. As the population grows we need to help save the earth for future generations. Buying recycled products whenever possible also helps complete the recycling circle.