Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Master Recyclers in the making

Hennepin County's first Master Recycler/Composter classes started a couple of weeks ago, and the program's off to a great start. Here are scenes from the recycling processes class.

Doug Jewett from PPL (Project for Pride in Living) spoke about mattress recycling. Read about PPL's program here and here.

PPL runs a social enterprise recycling program that trains and employs hard-to-employ people. PPL started recycling mattresses in 2008, and is only the third mattress recycler in the country. They're talking to manufacturers such as Sealy to get them to make mattresses with recyclability in mind.

An estimated 65,000 to 78,000 mattresses a year are eligible for recycling in Hennepin County, and PPL has just started to scratch the surface. The city of Minneapolis alone generates an average of 78 mattresses for disposal per day. Because of PPL's (and Hennepin County's) efforts, 1,350,000 pounds of material (which translates to 22,000 mattresses) have been diverted from landfills and the waste-to-energy incinerator to date. PPL anticipates recycling 28,000 mattresses by the end of this year, and they expect to recycle 36,000 to 39,000 mattresses by 2012.

Mattresses consist of metal, cotton, foam, wood, fabric and shoddy (a mixture of foam, cotton and poly fill). Along the way Doug has run into hurdles. He had to design a custom baler to handle the steel coils. The wood frames are packed with staples, so a customized wood chipper that's magnetized to handle the staples has to be used.

PPL also handles It's In the Bag, which handles 22,000 to 28,000 pounds of plastic bags and film per month. The material goes to Trex, which uses it to make plastic decking.

This was one of Doug's slides. The bottom picture shows rows of steel bales.

The custom baler for handling the steel coils.

Lots and lots of staples in these wood frames.

David Speidel from Rock Tenn talked about the recycled paper-making process. At Rock Tenn, 2.2 million tons of post-consumer paper go into making 30 grades of recycled paper every year. They export a lot to China because Asia uses so much packaging. He also said the price of cardboard got to $145/ton and then plummeted to $20/ton during the recession 3 years ago.

Two of their post-consumer paper products.

An example of what Rock Tenn's products are made into.

Jim Wollschlager from Randy's Environmental Services discussed the recycling process at their MRF (materials recovery facility). He said Randy's SSO (source-separated organics) programs are intensifying. They're collecting organics from 18 schools and 40 businesses.

Jim Wollschlager and Terry Nichols from Trident Polymers also gave presentations at the recycling-markets update, which I blogged about in March.


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