Ecomaine and Recycling

The tipping floor: where recyclable stuff is loaded onto the conveyors for separation

Running stuff on the conveyor

I’m recently back from a trip to Maine where I visited friends. One of the highlights of my trip was a tour of Ecomaine’s recycling facility.  It’s all about our stuff. You might remember George Carlin’s skit about stuff.

Trash stuff is offloaded in another building where the claw grabs it to feed to the burners. There it is reduced to ash. Contaminates are scrubbed and captured as fly ash. Both go to landfills where they cannot leach into the surrounding soil.
After sorting, each type of stuff is bailed and shipped to producers.

Recycling facilities offer a critical service. Unfortunately, we consume so much stuff that recycling is not enough. Right now there is tremendous pressure on the picturesque Finger Lakes in New York State (home of many wineries) to receive evermore stuff into their landfills. People are up in arms. But who can blame them? I don’t want a landfill in my backyard either. Who is to blame? Well, uh, it’s you, me, and all of us. The fact of the matter is we all buy too much stuff. And the manufacturers and the retailers, they just add to it by blister packing it in cardboard and plastic so it’s more difficult to shoplift and looks great on the shelves or on hooks. Having all this stuff is also causing global temperatures to rise, due to the energy required to produce it.

So, the solution is, buy less and package less. If we don’t do it, then the planet will do it for us. I’m not making a pitch to save the planet—it will go on without us. I’m making the pitch to save ourselves. But at the very least, keep recycling.

My thanks to our tour guide, Katrina, who knew the answers to all of our many questions.

 

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