Monday, August 24, 2009

Ever wonder who will sort your no-sort recycling?

ID Statesman explains:

The transformation of newspapers and shoe boxes begins in your recycling cart at the curb. After being dumped together into a truck, their first stop is Western Recycling, where they are pressed together with other recyclables into 1,200-pound cubes.

Since Boise's no-sort recycling program launched in June, Western Recycling has seen about a 40 percent increase in recyclable material, said plant manager Soron Root. The biggest problem so far? Residents don't seem to realize that glass still isn't accepted.

"The biggest deterrent is we're getting a lot of glass. We're ending up with glass on the floor, flat tires on fork lifts," Root said. "I realize everyone wants to recycle everything they can, but we have to do it the right way."

The bales are shipped to facilities in Tacoma, Wash., or Clackamas, Ore., where they are broken open.

The materials from the bale are put on inclined conveyor belts into several sorting devices.

Big things are separated from small. Newspapers are pushed to one side, plastic to another. At the end of the line, containers with magnets pull the "tin" cans out, and an electrical current pushes the aluminum away so it falls off onto another conveyor belt.

"Everything that comes off the conveyor, in theory, is plastic," Root said.

"Unfortunately," he said, "the quality of material you get has some contamination - with your cardboard you're going to have some junk mail. A tin can with a yogurt container in it may end up with the tin."

With other cities in the Treasure Valley looking into no-sort recycling, Western Recycling is considering buying land to build its own sorting facility, Root said.

"We would probably almost double our size," he said.

Boise residents have adapted quickly and easily to the new trash program, said Department of Public Works spokesman Vince Trimboli.

Read full story here.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

With fewer miles driven, how does the govt make money for roads?

Hal Bunderson, chairman of Ada County Citizens for Better Transportation, outlines five options for road revenue generation in an opinion piece published in the ID Statesman. Excerpt:

There is general agreement that Idaho has serious transportation infrastructure problems. Idaho is a large state with several thousand miles of federal, state and local roads and a relatively small population to pay the costs. It is critical that we develop a balanced, long-term transportation-funding model.

Our existing model - a fossil fuel tax and a vehicle registration fee - is fundamentally flawed. In the face of inflation and increased demand, improved vehicle efficiency is providing less fuel tax revenue per mile driven.

Gov. Otter has appointed a "Task Force on Modernizing Transportation Funding in Idaho." It is not the first time policymakers have studied transportation funding. Some argue that they have studied it to death, confusing effort with results. Hopefully this time, policymakers will avoid politics and parochial interests and reach conclusions based on agreed guiding principles, disciplined evaluation and objective analysis of probable long-term consequences.

Read full story here.