Golden Recycling Provider Responds to China’s Recycling Restrictions in a Big Way
For many years, recycling sorting facilities in the U.S. (also called “MeRFs”, or Material Recovery Facilities) have shipped certain plastics to China where any contamination (trash, non-plastics) that may have been missed in the U.S. sorting process must be discarded. Last year, China became stricter with how much contamination would be allowed in the shipments. Business-savvy MeRFs invest in innovative technologies to ensure a lower level of contamination and therefore a higher market price for the materials. Other MeRFs who cannot effectively prevent contamination are forced to sell to processors inside the U.S. This surplus of plastics within the U.S. has a temporary, but negative affect on commodities prices.
Because China is the largest importer of recyclable materials, Golden’s recycling provider, Alpine Waste & Recycling, has made aggressive changes to their operations. During a recent tour Alpine Waste & Recycling’s MeRF in Denver, Vice President Brent Hildebrand explained the steps Alpine has taken to respond to China’s new rules. “The restrictions are very tough to meet. We have slowed the processing system down and brought in extra workers to more thoroughly vet the materials going through to look for contaminants.”
Alpine’s continued investment in innovative technologies has also helped. A new robot, nicknamed Clark, uses artificial intelligence to pick up and sort recyclables at a rate much faster than humans. Workers help it recognize new materials so it is continually learning and it even shares its new information with other MeRFs around the country. Elsewhere, an optical sorting machine “sees” different types of materials on the assembly line and uses puffs of air to shoot the materials to an appropriate bin.
The new technologies not only increase efficiency, and reduce contamination, but have also helped Alpine process materials not previously accepted, like block Styrofoam and Starbucks coffee cups (Yes, if your household participates in the City’s waste and recycling collection program or uses Alpine Waste as its hauler, you can now recycle single use coffee cups!).
One way you help keep the stream clean? “Metal objects, such as car parts, oven pans, and tools can cause the sorting system to be down for hours due to damaged equipment,” Hildebrand said. “It’s a really big deal and we need to educate people on what’s acceptable and what is not acceptable in the recycling stream.” Check out the complete list of Alpine’s accepted materials on the City website and spread the word. Together, we can keep the business of recycling in business.
Recycle Your Christmas Tree
Drop off your Christmas trees through January 27 at the former Golden Recycle site, just west of Hwy 93 on the north side of Golden Gate Canyon Road.
Trees must be stripped of all ornaments, hardware, lights, and tinsel.
Trees will be mulched, and the mulch will eventually available for free at the public pick-up site on 11th Street, just west of Clear Creek History Park.
For more information, call 303-384-8141.
Community Sustainability Advisory Board Requests Feedback on Draft Goals
We value your input. For more information, email email@example.com or call (303) 384-8117.
America Recycles Day Resources
Let’s be honest, recycling can get confusing pretty quickly. Here are “recycling decoders” These templates (magnets , bookmarks, flyers) are designed to help make it easy to get stuff recycled right.
- Recycling Decoder (Print Ready Recycling Tip Magnet)
- Recycling Fact Sheet
- “Recycling by Room” Infographic
Nothing can be more daunting to would-be recyclers than trying to figure out what can be recycled, when, where and how. Fortunately, figuring out when, where and how to recycle in your community couldn’t be easier. Check the America Recycles Day recycling locator to get started.
A Firsthand Look at the Where Our Green Waste Goes
Recently, Golden residents were given the opportunity to tour Alpine Waste and Recycling’s Class II Compost Facility in Bennett, CO. As the hauler of the City of Golden’s compost, Alpine processes up to 250 tons of compost a month. This experience provided a firsthand glimpse into the path our food and yard our waste takes once it leaves our homes and businesses.
The process begins with Alpine’s compost route trucks collecting food and yard waste. After a transfer in Denver, the material arrives at the main hot commercial compost site in Bennett. The compost is then placed in mixing machines, which make sure there is a right combination of nitrogen (green materials) and carbon (brown materials) to create the compost. The compost is then placed in approximately a dozen, 400-foot -long “windrows” where it is turned and generates internal heat until it reaches a minimum of 131 degrees. The process takes about ten weeks.
After rigorous testing, the final product of enriched compost is sold to buyers in the landscaping and agricultural industries. King Soopers is one of Alpine’s largest suppliers of compostable material and buyers of finished compost. King Soopers brings their composting effort full circle by sending spoiled produce to Alpine’s compost facility and then purchasing back the finished product and selling it as potting soil in their stores. This summer, look for Kroger brand bagged compost with the “Colorado proud” logo.
Resolve to Start Composting this Year
New Year’s is the erfect time to sign up for Golden’s curbside Organic Compost Service. This bi-weekly, year round service is directly billed to you for $9.45/month. Anyone can participate – sign up for yourself, split the costs with a neighbor, or ask your complex to sign up for a compost dumpster. Upon subscribing, you will receive a 96-gallon cart to start your collection. Contact Alpine at (303) 277-TRASH (8727) or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For a complete list of compostable items, visit https://alpinewaste.com/organics-recycling/
Stay Warm with Heating Rebates
Bundle up with up to $1,900 in rebates that help keep your home warm this winter. Xcel Energy is offering rebates on high-efficiency furnaces, insulation upgrades, and water heaters. The same things that keep you warm and comfortable this winter can keep cash in your pockets for winters to come. To learn more and find a participating contractor, visit www.xcelenergy.com/staywarm.