Las Vegas Sun

October 23, 2018

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5-MINUTE EXPERT:

Now the circle is complete for recycling in Southern Nevada

Comparison

Republic Services recycled 140,000 tons per year in its former facility. The company expects to recycle 250,000 tons per year in the new facility. The center is able to process enough aluminum to build a Boeing 747 every seven weeks.

Republic Services recently opened a $35 million Southern Nevada recycling center. The 110,000-square-foot facility features the latest in recycling technology, including remote workflow monitoring and control via tablet and a glass-recycling machine.

There’s no comparison between the former facility across the street, built in the ’90s, and the new one, said Republic Services General Manager Len Christopher. The new facility can process 265,000 tons of recyclables a year, almost double the previous capacity.

“It’s like in the past I was running the Indy 500 in a ’69 Volkswagen,” Christopher said. “Now I have my IndyCar.”

The center can move more material on a daily basis and the new machinery allows customers to recycle products they couldn’t before.

At the former center, only plastics with the 1 or 2 triangle symbols could be recycled.

What types of materials can I recycle?

• All plastics, regardless of the number in the triangle symbol (detergent bottles, cereal box liners, shopping bags, syrup bottles, carry-out containers, compact disc cases, etc.). Be sure to rinse out all containers before setting them out for recycling.

• Aluminum and tin cans (soda cans, soup cans, etc.)

• Paper goods (newspapers, phone books, magazines, corrugated cardboard, etc.)

• Glass bottles (sauce jars, perfume bottles, wine bottles, etc.)

How can I recycle?

• Henderson and North Las Vegas use single-stream recycling bins. Toss all recyclables, regardless of material, into the recycling bin.

• Las Vegas and unincorporated Clark County still use red, white and blue bins, originally intended to separate materials. However, all Republic Services recycling trucks now are single stream, meaning materials from each bin are dumped into the same truck. Customers can commingle recyclables between the three bins. A few neighborhoods may have single-stream bins as part of a pilot program.

• Multifamily housing units: If you live in an apartment complex, speak with the property manager to see if the complex has a designated recycling bin. It’s up to each property manager to decide whether he or she wants recycling bins on site.

How it works

1. Metering bins. The recyclables are brought on trucks to the center, where they first come through metering bins, which space out the flow of materials into the recycling system. The bins move 100 cubic yards of recyclables every 3.5 minutes.

2. Pre-sort deck. Workers remove any large items, such as machinery or wood, that can’t go through the system. If recyclables come in bags, workers scoop the bags out and throw them into a bag-breaking machine that tears through the bags and returns their contents to the recycling line.

3. Corrugated container screen. Rotating metal discs separate large cardboard items from smaller items.

It takes less than 3 minutes for the center to process recycled material from one fully loaded truck.

4. Glass cleanup system. The center uses the only glass cleanup system of its kind in the world. The system separates small debris such as paper or plastic from the glass, then runs the glass through a drum to suck out any other nonglass items. Though other glass-sorting systems exist, the one at Republic Services uses the latest technology, Christopher said.

5. News screens. Sorters separate paper and newsprint from the other materials.

6. Fiber optical sorter. The sorter separates nonfiber material from fiber material.

7. Magnetic drum. Steel cans and any other items containing iron are separated for processing.

8. Eddy current. The current magnetizes aluminum cans and pulls them away from other recyclables into a separate stream.

9. Optical sorter. As the recyclables flow on a conveyor belt, the optical sorter scans each item to categorize plastics by color and density. They then are sucked up by a pump and separated.

If stacked, the bales the facility produces daily would stand twice the height of the Stratosphere.

10. Baler. The last step is binding the recyclables together in bales to be shipped to more than 150 mills and manufacturers worldwide.

Where to learn more

The new recycling center also features a learning center, where school groups, scouts and commercial customers can learn about the recycling process. The center features monitors that display a live feed of recycling operations, as well as facts and information about how much Republic Services recycles each year.

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