Saturday, March 3, 2012

New $20 million trash recycler cleans up

ANAHEIM – A three-story whirling maze of conveyor belts, machines and 36 employees turns heaps of recycling materials picked up curbside by Republic Services into neatly stacked, 1,500-pound bales of paper, plastic and other materials shipped off to become something new.
The new $20 million system for recycling trash from homes, at the company's 36-acre Anaheim facility, replaces a 20-year-old sorting system for. The result? The sorting capacity soars from 20 tons per hour to 50, with just six more pairs of human hands.
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Republic Services employees pull items from the recycling that should have been put in the trash bin.

"The equipment is designed to recover 95 percent of recyclable material," said Robin Murbach, general manager of post-collection.
Before, it was 70 percent.
And a high recovery rate is important – for the environment and for keeping cities successful in meeting state law for how much trash is getting diverted from landfills. In Orange County, Republic Services is the contracted waste hauler for Anaheim, Brea, Fullerton, Garden Grove, Placentia, Villa Park and Yorba Linda.
While all meet the current requirement of 50 percent, Republic Services spokeswoman Brenda McGuire said the mandated 75 percent by 2020 would be hard to hit without these technology advances.
It all starts with trucks bearing loads collected from curbside recycling bins pulling up to the new eight-bay docking system in the 160,000-square-foot covered building on Blue Gum Street just north of the 91 freeway.
The unsorted materials take a ride up conveyor belts. A series of churning screens (six where there were two before) glean larger pieces of cardboard and bulky items and shift items by size onto awaiting conveyor belts that whisk materials away for further sorting using magnets, optical sensors and, in a few sections, people.
One new key feature is that a series of optical sensors watch as plastic containers fly off of the end of conveyor belts – and puffs of air are shot to separate water bottles, milk jugs and laundry-detergent bottles.
Thirteen people were hired for the upgrade – there are 36 now working on the line in two shifts each day.
Standing on a catwalk high above a mound awaiting sorting, Murbach and McGuire peered over the bright-yellow handrails, pointing out items such as blue tarps, pillows and other textiles, Mylar balloons and garden houses that can't be recycled and should be put in trash bins by residents to help the sorting system.
Garden hoses and sheets, for example, can wrap around machines and jam them.
"You as a customer can make a difference," Murbach said. "The better the material you bring to us, the (more) we can recover."
For commercial trash, Republic Services plans to install a $20 million sorting system by the end of 2013.
Trashy tips
To increase what is recycled, and to protect workers, certain steps should be taken:
Plastic grocery bags can be recycled. But the bags are hard to corral when sorting and can tangle up equipment. Bundle 15 to 20 together to give them heft.
Put paper shreds in a paper bag and write ‘shred’ in bold on the side. The bag will be allowed to go through the sorting system and in with the recycled paper. Otherwise, they get lost in the process.
Packing-peanuts can’t be recycled effectively; it is better to reused them yourself.
The packaging for a case of bottled water - the plastic cover and the cardboard base - should be separated to help the recycling system. Same goes for removing metal lids from glass or plastic bottles.
Don’t bag up recyclables.
There are still people involved in the sorting process, so think about what hazards you might be putting in their path. Needles and other sharps need to be disposed of another way.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Homes made from wacky materials

Humble materials get recycled to create outlandish homes, such as this dumpster house.
Photo: Forbes
Bedtime stories say the evil witch from Hansel and Gretel lived in a gingerbread cottage with window panes of sugar and a candy studded roof. And an old lady with so many children she didn’t know what to do lived in a shoe.
In real life, the possibilities are just as wacky, from paper houses to converted grain bins to homes made from a muddy mixture called “cob.” These architectural oddities — homes built out of recycled junk, gussied up dumpsters, or grounded airplanes — provide fodder for future fairy tales, or at least late-night shows on HGTV.
See full story: Homes Made From Wacky Materials
See full story: Homes Made From Wacky Materials
In the Hamptons, a resort area usually associated with oceanfront mega mansions, abandoned steel shipping containers are being used to construct a 2,000-square-foot beach house with a deck and a small pool. Andrew Anderson, the builder and owner of, says turning the containers into a home will ultimately help the planet.
“It’s the opportunity to take these products and give them a second life,” Anderson says. “You weld them together and tack them onto the foundation.” With loads of glass and an exposed corrugated ceiling in the upper container and an exposed corrugated wall in a lower crate, the shipping container beach house will be listed this spring for close to $1.4 million.
Here are five houses made from the most unconventional materials:

Fancy Fuselage
Where: All Over
Made From: Old Airplanes
The vintage Boeing 727's interior is adorned with teak paneling from cockpit to tail.
Photo: Costa Verde
Once they’ve made their last landings, Boeing 727s and Douglas DC-8s, don’t always get put out to pasture on the retirement tarmac. If not broken up for parts and scrap, the occasional airplane, wings clipped, gets transformed into a sealed, sturdily built fuselage-style private home. Corporate jets already outfitted with designer bedrooms, comfy leather sofas, media rooms and bars, may just need the seat belts removed.

Dumpster Home
Where: Berkeley, California
Made From: Dumpster
Extreme compromises include a toilet lid that doubles as a bed cushion.
Photo: Forbes
"A nice little home out of a garbage can." That's how artist Gregory Kloehn of Berkeley, CA describes, in a interview by Kim Aronson, the dumpster he made into a “luxury” compact home for urban living. The “elite waste” quarters boast stainless steel appliances, gas stove, hardwood floors, a toilet, storage and sleeping areas and a barbecue outside. At night its two front windows roll down into the elite dumpster for privacy.

Junk Castle
Where: Pullman, Washington
Made From: Car Parts, Sheet Metal, Car Windows
Building on a budget: this scrap-metal home cost less than $500 to build.
Photo: Forbes
Many folks have junk drawers. Victor Moore, an art teacher, had a junk house. Set on a hilltop with lookouts made from car windows and the glass from washing machine doors, the 1960s Junk Castle is filled with all sorts of, well, junk, from his workshop. The exterior walls are a mélange of old auto body parts, recycled sheet metal and household appliance parts.

Cob House
Where: Rutledge, Missouri
Made From: Sand, Clay, Straw
The 370-square-foot cottage took nine months to build.
Photo: Forbes
To build his snail-shaped "cob house," Brian "Ziggy" Liliola used 219 batches of cob, a wet mixture of straw, clay and sand. He chose the rustic building material used on 500-year-old thatched cottages in England, because of “how creative you could be” and “the flexibility and low cost and sustainable benefit” of building with local materials.

Converted Silos And Grain Bins
Where: The Midwest
Made From: Converted Silos, Grain Bins
Two grain silos were combined to create a unique 1,800 square-foot home.
Photo: Forbes
Silos and grain bins aren’t just for missiles or soybeans anymore. Structurally sound, ready made with a roof, round walls and a concrete floor loaded with interior space, the often abandoned, recyclable steel structures are easily converted into homes that are fire and termite resistant, weather proof and energy efficient. For larger lodgings, they can be placed side-by-side or stacked on top of each other. Even Rapunzel might let down her hair in these multi-story circular dwellings. After all, it’s like living in a metal turret.

See full story: Homes Made From Wacky Materials

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