Today I returned to the Materials Recycling Facility at Rhode Island Resource Recovery to shoot video of materials being sorted through the new single stream system. The facility is currently running tests with materials collected from a few select towns. All of Rhode Island can expect to receive information on transitioning to the new system by mid June. This pile of materials had just been unloaded from a truck. As you can see, the recyclables are all mixed together. After traveling across belts, past sorting employees, through tumblers, sifters, and scanners, the materials are baled to be sent off to separate processing facilities.
Guided by Recycling Program Manager Krystal Noiseux and Operations Supervisor Brian Dubis, I carried a camera and tripod to the many sorting stations throughout the facility. We wore hard hats, reflective vests, safety glasses, and headsets (the sounds of the machinery and the materials in motion were incredibly loud). For safety reasons, visitors will not be allowed inside the sorting facility, so monitors inside the observation rooms will display the videos we collect of the stations and actions that are not visible from the viewing windows. I feel very lucky to be able to see firsthand all of the planning, labor, technology, and energy that goes into sorting Rhode Island’s recyclable materials. What happens inside the MRF is just one of so many steps involved in recycling our waste.