I and about 20 others traveled to Chester VA to visit the recycling center that processes the mixed (single stream) recycling collected curbside in Charlottesville. I was surprised that this facility used a large number of employees who manually sorted material on a fast moving conveyor belt. Metal cans were removed using magnetic systems (the best part of the plant for me was the place where aluminum cans leaped off the conveyor belt into a separate chute from other material flowing on the belt).
Here is a view of one of the sorters at work. This woman was terrific to watch. She was sorting plastic bottles from the stream of material and looked as though she was dancing to some inner rhythm. Very impressive. I wonder how she could keep this up for a 12-hour shift (the typical shift length).
The whole operation was geared toward separation of the recyclable materials by type - something we all can do at home. I plan to continue to bring much of my recyclable material to the McIntire Road facility where I can keep the material separated by type. It appears to be much more efficient to distribute recyclable material directly from a pre-sorted bin at McIntire Road than to haul it all jumbled together to Chester VA and spending what appears to be a significant amount of energy and other resources to separate the material there - and then shipping it on for recycling by type.
The plant personnel provided lots of helpful information and provided a terrific tour. I applaud the city staff for making this tour possible and allowing interested residents to hop on the city provided bus for the tour. I will encourage the city to do more tours of this type to other facilities the city uses in meeting the needs of its residents. Perhaps we could get a tour of the Water and Sewer facilities, the trash transfer station, the proposed Ragged Mountain reservoir site and the eastern portion of McIntire Park through which the McIntire Road Extended is proposed for construction.
Bringing residents to these locations and providing information about what will truly be gained or lost when public policy decisions are made is a terrific step toward the city's goal of a citizen oriented government. I am ready to sign up for the next tour. I hope you will consider going along, too.