Leesburg Recycling

2009 August 4
by Linda

recycle1Did you ever wonder if that recycling you put onto your curb, with all of it’s mixed up goods, was actually sorted  and passed along the recycling food chain, or are you like many residents who believe that the material is simply sent along to the dump with the rest your household trash?  While it’s true that the recycling is picked up using the same trucks as are used on garbage day, believe it when I say that the recycling is sorted and distributed.

Friday, the Environmental Advisory Committee of Leesburg attended a tour of the CSI recycling facility in Sterling.  What is in it for CSI to actually sort and recycle?  The single largest cost for trash haulers is the fee at the dump.  This is why many places spend the gas to take trash to areas outside of the county.  Most of your trash does not end up in the Loudoun County Landfill.  Believe it or not, hand sorting the recycling is much less expensive than the dump fee – and the sorted product brings in money.

recycle2The CSI facility is basically a warehouse – the trucks arrive hauling 900 houses worth of recycling, they dump it onto the floor of the warehouse where it is then hand sorted into piles.  Cardboard is thrown flat onto a conveyer belt which hauls it to a baler.  The bales of cardboard are then stacked ready for freight shipment to North Carolina – ready to be turned back into a paper pulp slurry.  Generally, the recycled cardboard is used to make low grade products such as the corrugated section (wavy middle) of new cardboard.  Metals are sorted, compressed, and sent via train to places like Kentucky to be smelted and reused.  Glass containers are reused, versus recycled, or sent to the landfill where they are ground up and used as roadway material – a much cheaper alternative to gravel.  Plastics are grouped all together and sent to processing plants which further separate and recycle.  Many of the plastic bottles you use daily are made into carpets and clothing.

recycle3What about plastic grocery bags?  CSI sends them along with the other plastics, but generally, they are disposed of at the secondary sorting site.  The best bet to make sure your plastic grocery bags don’t end up in a landfill somewhere is to take them to the Giant who has a contract with a company specifically set up to recycle these bags.  Better yet, remember to take your reusable shopping bags with you when ever you have to shop!  In fact, our CSI spokesman, Paul Williamson, made the comment that the best way to “recycle” is at the source – reduce your packaging and waste at the source, and avoid having material to recycle.  A great web site which has a wonderful selection of reusable bags is: http://www.reusablebags.com/  My favorite are “Envirosax” bags – they can be purchased in a set of 5, fold down into a small billfold sized packet, and are strong enough to be filled to bursting.  ReusableBags also has a good selection of alternatives to plastic bottles.  “Sigg” bottles are great as they are lightweight aluminum and lined so they are resistant to bacteria and don’t carry a taste from a previous drink.  The great thing about buying a “named” product such as Sigg, is the ability to buy replacement caps.  Ours have been thoroughly tested in a year of school lunches – they’ve been drop-kicked and generally abused, but will certainly last another year, dents and all.

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