Where Does All That Stuff Go

 We here at the Antlers do a pretty, darn good job when it comes to recycling stuff and we were wondering what happens to it after it’s picked up. We decided to find out and organized a good old fashion field trip to investigate.
Some of the gang in “class”
The Eagle County Land Fill is now home to one of the newest, most advanced recycle facilities in Colorado. In operation since January 12 of this year, Jesse Masten, our host for the tour, explained that the facility is operating no where near its capacity. “Most recycle materials are still being trucked to Denver because of existing contracts. We hope to gather and process more materials as time goes on”. He gave us some figures on what they process now and it is still staggering. Some of the numbers? How about 48,000 lbs of aluminum and tin, 90,000 lbs of card board, 40,000 lbs of plastic, 46,000 lbs of newspaper and all this in one week on average. All of this from curbside pick-ups and a few drop centers in Eagle and Pitkin Counties. 
…It starts here…

…And ends here.  

I was most impressed with the machine that does all the work. It’s not a lot of machines and equipment, but just one, great, big machine with ramps and belts and pumps and blowers and crushers and pokers and magnets. Everything, except for cardboard and newspaper, is pushed onto the belt and comes out separated and bailed and ready to ship to whomever is buying the material.     

...It starts here... One Big Machine

One question from the group, “What is the worst (or most mis-understood) material to be recycled”?  Without hesitation, Jesse said “The plastic grocery bags. They are not recyclable and need to be hand picked off the conveyor belt”. He also asked if we could “please wash out the barbecue sauce, mayonnaise, and ragu from the empty bottles. It really starts to smell when the glass is crushed”.      

So that’s what happens to that stuff. I’m now curios to know what happens after it arrives in Oklahoma, China, Arizona and Texas after it’s purchased. I see another field trip in our future.      

Thanks to our tour guide and everyone from the Antlers at Vail condos that took some time away from their busy day to join us. (And thanks for the photos Kate)