Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Age-old recycling question: What goes in, what stays out?


“First time I’ve seen one of these,” said Jerome Sheehan, Burlington County’s director of solid waste management, of the nonrecyclable toilet seat he sorted.
     "First time I’ve seen one of these,” said Jerome Sheehan, Burlington County’s director of solid waste management,
      of the 
 non-recyclable toilet seat he sorted. CLEM MURRAY / Staff Photographer




















Let's be honest.  Are you really sure that all the items you're putting into your recycling can belong there?  What is recyclable, what is trash?|

To a large extent, the answer starts with where you live or work. Are you in a town where residents and businesses are still required to put out one curb container for newspaper and a second for bottles and cans?

Or are you in Burlington County, NJ where residents put all their ‘recyclables’ into one can and workers at a recycling plant pluck the ineligible items from a fast moving conveyor belt?

And even if you enjoy the luxury of such a ‘single-stream’ system, are you sure that the types of plastics or paper that you’re chucking into the recycling can really belong there?

This month marks the first anniversary of Burlington county's conversion to a single-stream operation at its Robert C. Shinn Recycling Center in Westampton.


Philadelphia Inquirer staffer David O’Reilly visited to see how things are going and found a quiet-seeming brick building “where white trucks arrive each weekday to deliver 350,000 pounds of recyclable material - and some that is not…”

Inside, he discovered “a roaring steel behemoth of conveyor belts and sorting equipment bearing names such as "scalping screen," "glass trommel," "drum magnet," and "air drum separator" sorts a seething river of refuse into wrapped bales of reusable material."

He also learned a bit or two about what is truly recyclable and what is not—at least in Burlington County, NJ.









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