In Photos: Columbia’s Recycling Facility

Bales, bales and more bales! A large part of touring the facility involved marveling at and subsequently maneuvering through the bales.

At some point or another, most of us have heard at least something about Columbia’s landfill and recovery operations, where all of MU and Columbia’s waste and recycling is sent. Last week, I had the pleasure of touring the landfill via an Environmental Leadership Office-sponsored event, to finally see (and smell) what all the buzz was about. First though, some quick numbers about the facility, provided by a convenient fact sheet we received during the tour:

Fillin’ Up: Columbia’s Landfill

  • 107 acres of the site is used for landfill.
  • 720 total acres at the site.
  • 6 billion tons is the full capacity of the landfill
  • 50% of that 6 billion ton capacity is remaining.
  • 600-700 tons of waste is added to the landfill daily.

Makin’ that Green: Fiscal year 2012

  • $176,856 worth of the harvested methane from the site’s bioenergy plant has been paid to the Public Works Solid Waste Division by the Water & Light Department.
  • 10,347 tons of material has been recycled in Columbia’s material recovery facility.
  • 14,588 tons of compost have been processed at the sites compost facility.

(Somewhat) Dirty Jobs: Staffing

  • 7 full-time employees at the recovery facility.
  • 22 temporary employees at the recovery facility.
  • 14 full-time employees at the landfill.
  • temporary employees at the landfill.
  • 2 full-time employees at the compost facility.
  • 1 temporary employee at the compost facility

Now, on to the photos!

The most critical part of the recovery process is this big blue baler. The baler converts all of the recycled materials into easily manageable bales.
Fibers (cardboard, paper and magazines), piling up, soon to be baled.
Employees hard at work, sorting out the waste from recyclable material as it makes its way through the through the baler process.
Recyclable plastics waiting to be bailed.
Note: The facility does not recycle plastics 3-7 because there is not a strong enough market for them to be profitable.
Bales of recycled aluminum, soon be auctioned to the highest bidders (i.e. companies that will further process the aluminum for redistribution.
A close up look at an aluminum bale. Can you dig it?!
The landfill.
Note: This photo does not do any amount of justice in portraying its incredible vastness.
This is part of the main machine at the site’s bioenergy plant. It’s a remarkable (and remarkably noisy – earplugs were needed) facility that harvests methane and other sources of energy from the waste in the landfill.