Friday, August 27, 2010

Python's Recycling in St. Cloud

I accompanied the Coon Rapids recycling coordinator and others from Anoka County to Python's Recycling in St. Cloud. The Coon Rapids drop-off recycling center is looking for someone to take their plastics, which prompted our visit. The behind-the-scenes look was very educational, eye-opening and shocking! Their profit margin is very low, in some cases 1 cent per pound, and they often have to sit on materials for months and months waiting to find a buyer.

public drop-off area at Python's

baled aluminum cans

egg cartons

aluminum cans close-up

The sorting line is not for the faint-hearted. In this narrow room, it's very grimy and smelly, and in the summer it's boiling hot and in the winter it's colder than the outside temperatures. The sorters' job is made harder by the fact that the plastics come baled, so pieces will often be interwoven and need to be forcefully pried apart.

Items from the sorting line drop down chutes into this area.

a conveyer belt takes materials into the baler

plastic bottles coming out of the baler

each bale weighs about 800 pounds

plastic bottles

HDPE (#2) plastic bottles

more HDPE bottles

mixed paper waiting for a buyer is exposed to the elements

steel cans

plastic bottles squeezed into wafers!

Green and brown glass bottles

This was the part that shocked me: All these shards and bits are headed for the landfill! This was hard to stomach.

Debris pile headed for the landfill

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