I recently had the opportunity to learn more about waste disposal and recycling in our community during a tour of The York Region’s Material Recovery Facility. The facility is located in East Gwillimbury, and it processes and sorts recyclable material from all nine York Region municipalities. It is the place where all of Richmond Hill’s Blue Box Material ends up before being sold as material for conversion into other products.
In Richmond Hill, garbage and recycling is picked up from our homes under the City’s jurisdiction but the ultimate disposal of waste and processing of recyclable materials is undertaken by the Region of York, on behalf of all nine Regional municipalities.
Given recent changes in the market for recyclable material, and specifically the market’s tolerance for contaminants in sorted recyclable material, it is more important than ever that we, as individuals do the best that we can to put only materials that are accepted for recycling, in the blue box. For example, plastic bags are not accepted in our Blue Box program but are one of the most common contaminants at this facility that needs to separated and removed.
The Material Recovery Facility employs a complicated series of devices to automate the separation of materials, but items like film plastic are primarily removed by hand and this is a labour intensive process. The rest of the materials are removed by an elaborate, impressive, series of magnets, devices that separate material by blasts of air, and optical sorters. These processes successfully sort tons or recyclable material each day.
The facility costs about $10M per year to operate. While the demand and resulting revenue for recyclable materials continues to be volatile the cost of disposing of this material is still more expensive than recycling, so an effectively run facility like this is still a better alternative than disposal. Needless to say an effective recycling program is also far more environmentally responsible for our communities.
We all have a part in making this process even more cost effective by being efficient in our recycling practices. To learn more about the facility and the recycling program in York Region and Richmond Hill please visit the links below.
For a link to find out what can and can’t be placed in the Blue Bin CLICK HERE
To view video with more detail about the operation about this facility click here – https://youtu.be/8QOuF3eMUyM
To find out more about York Region Waste and Recycling Programs – CLICK HERE