|In trash mining, the use of clear collection bags makes the process easier for workers, who are then able to grab things that might otherwise be missed.
(photo by Mariano Rosales)
By Sienna Kossman
A new, single-stream trash and recyclable collection program is in place on the AirVenture grounds this year to improve the waste management process and increase recycling overall.
"In the past we didn't have a lot of success with recycling because of trash can contamination," said Randy Huss, Waste Management territory manager. "We are now 'mining' the trash."
Previously, when consumers threw trash in receptacles marked "recycling," or vice versa, the recycling process could not be successfully completed. Now, all materials can be disposed of in one receptacle.
"Many people will see everything go into one truck, and we don't want them to be alarmed and think we are not recycling," said EAA Facilities Manager Steve Taylor. "It is just part of the collection process. It all gets separated later at the (Waste Management) facility."
The "mining" process begins after the waste is collected and taken to a facility in Germantown, Wisconsin, where it is sorted in a single-line process.
Recyclable products are pulled out of the waste stream, separating them from the compostable trash. The use of clear collection bags makes the process easier for workers, who are then able to grab things that might otherwise be missed.
"This new process should make grounds recycling much more thorough," Taylor added.
Containers on the AirVenture grounds are not specially labeled for this new process; they resemble unmarked waste bins, but some are still labeled separately as "trash" or "recyclable" for easier product removal processes in high-volume areas.
Not only does this new procedure increase collection efficiency, but it will also give EAA a better idea of just how much and what kinds of products are consumed during the week of AirVenture.
"It will give us a better depiction of the actual amount of trash and recyclables removed from the grounds," Taylor said. "We will report how much trash was collected versus the amount of recyclables shortly after AirVenture."
Trash mining has been primarily used by Waste Management, and has proved beneficial.
"It's overall a fairly new process that we are trying this year," Huss said, noting that it was successful at other area events held earlier this summer.
"And hopefully that continues here."