Last week, I had the opportunity to join a group from the City of Tiffin in touring Rumpke’s Columbus Material Recovery Facility. It was fascinating to see the process of what happens after I place something in the recycling bin, and to be assured that it does in fact get recycled.
We started our tour just as your recyclables do – with a trip to the tipping floor where materials get dumped out of a garbage or semi-truck and then are moved by front loader tractors into the facility. Following that, items ride on a series of conveyor belts. These material are then sorted by machines, scanners and artificial intelligence, and not to mention the more than 60 employees who work over multiple shifts to pre-sort materials, remove trash along the line or maintain the machinery.
The Columbus plant is one of 13 recycling centers that Rumpke operates, in addition to 15 landfills. At this plant, Rumpke takes in material from 36 Ohio counties, including Seneca. These materials are then sold to various end-users – 90 percent of which are located in Ohio – that will turn your used items into new products. In fact, 60 percent of the material collected by Rumpke is paper product, and much of it is converted to cardboard.
While at the facility, one of the figures that stood out is that 13 percent of the items that come into the facility do end up having to go to the landfill. That may not seem like a lot, but the plant processes about 30 tons of recycling an hour, which is almost 8,000 pounds of waste. That is typically because customers are not following the guidelines on what is and is not acceptable for recycling.
Here’s a list of items that do not belong in your recycling totes:
- Batteries (hazardous and prone to catching fire)
- Helium and propane tanks
- Plastic bags
- Hoses and chains
- Clothes and sheets
- Car parts
- Pots and pans
- Window glass
- Cords, belts and dog leashes
- Light bulbs
- Hangers and wires
Remember – recycling is to be placed LOOSE in your totes to prevent bags of recyclables being sent to the landfill. Any bags that are sent to the recycling facility do not get opened as a preventative measure for the safety of the plant employees. Rumpke does accept shredded paper as long as it is in a clear bag that is see-through.
For a list of items that Rumpke accepts, please visit www.tiffinohio.gov/residents/utilities for a link to a PDF. Recent changes to the list of accepted items include pizza boxes (free of food debris), tubs (such as yogurt or butter), and paper and plastic cups from fast-food restaurants, plastic souvenir cups and Ball brand aluminum cups.
Earlier this year, Rumpke announced that the plant we toured is going to be replaced in 2024 with a new, 200,000 sq. ft. facility a few miles down the road in Columbus – a $50 million investment in state-of-the-art technology from Machinex, increasing the plant’s capacity to process 50 tons of recycling an hour. This plant will become one of the largest and most technologically advanced facilities in North America. After having seen the kind of process taking place at their current facility, I’m excited for my tour of the new plant to see how Rumpke will continue to innovate and ensure my recycling has a new life after I’ve put it in the tote.
Nick Dutro is the Director of Communications and Constituent Services for the City of Tiffin. He can be reached via email at [email protected]
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