How Sorting Through Waste Improves Recycling

What do the folks who manage your Athens Services account and train employees on recycling and organics have in common with the folks in hazmat suits ankle-deep in recyclables sorting through your waste?

How Sorting Through Waste Improves Recycling

What do the folks who manage your Athens Services account and train employees on recycling and organics have in common with the folks in hazmat suits ankle-deep in recyclables sorting through your waste? They are the same people! To gain a deeper knowledge of the different types of waste, each Athens recycling coordinator completes at least one waste characterization, sometimes several. 

Recycling coordinators are the friendly folks who conduct on-site outreach and education directly with customers. They manage accounts, identify issues or opportunities for diversion, train customers, and perform waste audits and waste characterizations. 

Such steps are effective ways to audit materials. The data collected paints an accurate picture of how cities dispose of their waste. 

The Process of Finding out What is in Your Trash

Loads of trash and recycling from different neighborhoods are selected at random for sorting. The loads are brought to the materials recovery facility (MRF) and weighed, then dumped onto the floor one at a time.  

Recycling coordinators are prepared in protective gear that includes helmets, steel-toed boots, hazmat suits, gloves, etc. They sort each item of waste into more than 30 bins labeled with different categories of waste. The only pieces left behind are smaller than a business card. 

Then, each categorized bin’s content is weighed, and photos are taken throughout the process. The data is recorded, sent off to the city, and the coordinators begin the process all over with the next load. Coordinators conduct up to three characterizations a month, sorting through one to three loads a day. Each load weighs between 200 and 600 pounds.

How Sorting Waste Helps Customers Recycle Better 

Athens Services is unique in having recycling coordinators complete waste characterizations. Other haulers use sorters, or they contract with Athens to do it. 

The experience gives recycling coordinators special insights into what waste belongs to which category and can share that information with customers. And, they walk away with a better understanding of how MRFs operate.

They also see firsthand some odd things that are tossed into recycling material. Recently, coordinators came across a perfectly ripe avocado smashed in the process, which contaminated the entire recycling load. 

This invaluable experience makes Athens’ recycling coordinators more knowledgeable and well-rounded. Often, coordinators are new to the industry. Going through waste characterizations makes them more capable when training and guiding customers through The Athens Way – service, people, and environment.  

If you want to understand your waste better, we encourage you to do your own visual characterization. Look into your bins and take note of the different types of waste and how much of each there are. 

To learn more about managing your waste, recycling better, or preventing contamination, follow Athens Services on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube. You will find valuable tips and videos of every stripe.