Faculty, staff, and one student recently took a trip to Ray’s Trash Service’s new recycling center to learn the process of sorting and separating that happens when our recycle bins get taken to the new west side facility.
The tour began on the “tipping floor” where the unsorted mess of cans, bottles, paper, and everything in between (including items that are not recyclable) are dumped to begin the separating process. More than 300 trucks haul the materials—from as far north as Lafayette, Indiana, as far south as Seymour, Indiana, and as far east and west as the state lines—to this plant.
With 65 conveyor belts, some pretty impressive gizmos, and workers making sure nothing sneaks through, the materials are efficiently filtered through and separated by material. Watching the sorting process occur is a lesson in physics.
Eventually, the separated materials are crushed into bales weighing anywhere from 800 to 1,000 pounds each and sold to facilities that will reuse the material, although a water bottle probably will not come back as a water bottle. It might be in the new carpet your parents just had installed or that fluffy insulation in your puffer coat.
When all is said and done, Ray’s is able to recycle approximately 95 percent of what comes through their facility.
Recycling On Campus
Materials placed directly in on-campus recycling bins (by the Office of Campus Operations and the Dorothy Day House) are taken to Ray's facility. Trash collected on campus is taken to Covanta, where it is burned to create steam energy for downtown Indianapolis.
To make sure we are making recycling as efficient as possible, Ray’s offers the following advice to customers:
Reduce and Reuse
- Reuse grocery bags in your home or at the store.
- Use cloth napkins.
- Use laundry detergent bottles, water bottles, or cans as scoops.
- Use newspapers, magazines, etc., for children’s arts and crafts.
- Take magazines to shelters or libraries.
- Take a reusable mug to the coffee shop and to work.
Avoid Wasteful Packaging
- Avoid packages containing multiple, individually packed items.
- Avoid single-serving convenience food items like soups and snack packs.
- Avoid disposables.
- Use multi-use products like rechargeable batteries.
- Buy in bulk to save on time, money, and packaging.
Learn more about what materials can and cannot be recycled.