Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Recycling Center Spotlight: Knox County Recycling Center A CANtastic Decade of Steel Collection

Image from
While most well-meaning consumers intend to recycle their home steel products, it wouldn’t be possible without the tens of thousands of curbside and drop-off locations across the nation. Knox County Recycling Center in Mount Vernon, OH has been in operation for over ten years accepting steel food and beverage cans, aerosol cans, scrap steel and several other types of materials.

While there are curbside programs in the area to compliment the convenience of this facility, the Knox drop-off location remains active as ever.

Steel products are a staple of any recycling program and Knox County Recycling Coordinator Linda Montgomery says it’s because of how easy the process is.

“It is extremely easy to operate and fun to watch. Steel and aluminum cans are recycled together and piled onto a large conveyor belt that rises overhead. When the cans are at the end of the conveyor belt, all the aluminum cans drop off into a large pile or pit ready to be bailed; the steel cans are propelled across the opening by a large magnetic strip, after the leap the steel cans land on another conveyor belt and head to a second bailer. Both bailers have the ability to crush the cans and then wire the bale together. The bales are loaded into a semi and are ready to be shipped away and melted down to begin the remanufacturing process.”

According to the Steel Recycling National Recycling Database there are currently over 7,700 curbside programs across the United States which provide recycling to over 164 million citizens while there are almost 13,000 drop-off locations. Both of these recycling options are vital to keeping steel as North America’s #1 most recycled material and Linda acknowledges that.

“Recycling steel saves 75 percent of the energy that would be used to create steel from raw materials,” Linda continued. “Steel has been recycled for 150 years and most steel structural beams and plates are made from almost 100% recycled steel.”

She does, however, see an advantage in drop-off locations.

“The advantage of drop-off locations is willing participation,” she stated. “People who have invested time to drive to a drop-off are serious about recycling and do a good job [preparing materials]. Curbside participants put out anything they think they can recycle.”

She went on and also stated how curbside programs require the route to be run twice – once for garbage and trash and again for recyclables, which ties up manpower and equipment.

“Drop-off locations are so important to the community,” she concluded. “The average person will drive three miles out of their way to recycle so the more convenient it is the greater the chance of getting someone to recycle.”

The convenience of 24 hour drop-off availability goes hand-in-hand with the simplicity of curbside pickup. Luckily most Americans don’t have to choose and can utilize both options for their steel recycling needs.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Kirkwood Curbside Turns Steel into Profit in First Month

A man enjoys downtown KirkwoodOpposition to curbside recycling usually presents the argument of unnecessary cost as their primary reason. With looming economic questions, how can a community afford to begin a new program when there are so few funds to go around? In Kirkwood, Missouri they answered these questions by creating a curbside program and making it a revenue stream as well, thanks to steel.

Steel food and aerosol cans were among the recycled materials that were then resold for $15,245.78 revenue. Combining this with the $11,509.96 from landfill fees they avoided and the total net savings for January was $26,755.74, a truly great accomplishment for the program.

“We did not anticipate this high of a start,” says Todd A. Rehg, the Director of Public Works. The program was discussed for 18 months in advance to their January launch and after the first month they had recycled 44 percent of all trash collected from recycling households, practically cutting their waste stream in half.

Steel’s immense value has a sustainable resource made it a must-have inclusion into the program. Unlike competing materials, creating new steel out of recycled materials uses less energy then creating virgin material so there is always a high demand.

“Curbside recycling is important to a community to give that community a sense of accomplishment of recycling rather than overtaxing the landfills,” continued Rehg. “The inclusion of aerosol cans, for example, only adds an additional recyclable material that otherwise would go to the landfill.”

Prior to the launch of the curbside program, the only recycling option for steel products in the area was a single drop off location. While this provided some support, the ease and broader coverage of a curbside program is tough to rival. For every steel can that was thrown in the trash, rather then taken to the drop off location, we lost the potential power savings of watching television for an hour or powering a 60 watt light bulb for more than four hours.

If the success will last, it remains to be seen, but this type of early success should motivate late arrivals to join the curbside caravan in Kirkwood.

“Residents need to take pride in recycling and keep separating the recyclable materials from their trash,” concluded Rehg.

A program that helps the environment and saves money for residents is definitely something to be proud of.