What is a MIRF
Many communities transport collected recyclables to a materials recovery facility (MRF – more commonly referred to as a “murf”). A MRF is a facility for sorting, separating, and processing trash and recyclables such as aluminum and steel cans, plastic jugs, glass bottles, and newspapers and separate them into containers or place them on a conveyor belt for mechanical or manual processing. Some MRFs process discarded waste, and extract and separate recyclables from trash that will be land filled or incinerated.
Here’s an example: Homeowners place their trash or recyclables in bags or bins at the curb. There, a driver may sort the materials into different compartments of the truck, comingle the materials, or compact the materials with the collected materials from other homeowners. Then the driver will haul the discards to the MRF for further processing. At the MRF, material may be sorted using a conveyor belt where magnets pull out ferrous metal, vacuums or blowers pull out plastic, and electrical currents force out aluminum. Glass and paper are manually separated and sorted by color and type. Workers constantly ensure that materials are effectively sorted during the entire process. While this process is often labor intensive, machines make the sorting easier and increase output
After sorting the recyclables according to the manufacturers’ specifications, the materials are often baled and loaded onto trucks for transport. The materials are then shipped to businesses which perform the next step in the recycling process, manufacturing new products from the recycled content. The new products are then transported to stores for the final step in the recycling process – purchase by the consumer.
Go the Distance:
Closing the Loop
The management of our waste, as a nation, is a topic of constant concern among city officials, our nation and the world. Landfills are being filled at an alarming rate. What is of even greater concern is what is being thrown away! All but 10.8% of landfill materials could have been recycled, reused or composted. Another way to look at this is 89.2% of our trash could be reused is some form or fashion. (See graph included.)
Many people are familiar with the concept of recycling. Recycling is the resubmission of our waste for the production of a new product. Recycling conserves the world’s resources and reduces the amount of landfill space which is needed. The city of Dallas recycles the following items: Plastics #1-5 & 7, corrugated cardboard, newspaper, magazines, catalogs, paper grocery bags, mixed paper, paperboard & chipboard, telephone books / paperback books, steel cans, aerosol cans, tin cans, aluminum cans, glass containers, & scrap metal.
Aside from recycling we are also able to reuse items. One way is by the actual reuse of the product (i.e. a Wal-Mart bag, egg carton for a rock collection or writing on the back of some paper). Another way items can be reused is when they are given to others, sold in garage sales or given to charities when no longer needed but still useful (i.e. stuffed animals, coloring books, clothes, etc.)
Lastly, the consumer can utilize composting. Composting is the biodegrading of organic materials such as lawn clippings, branches, food, etc. There are many internet sites dedicated to how to develop your own composting bin. Here are some:
What most consumers don’t know is they have the ability to do even more for our environment than recycling, reuse and composting. Consumers can tell manufactures how important environmental concerns are to them! Some manufacturers package their products in materials made from recycled waste. These new packing materials are referred to as post-consumer waste. The consumer can look for labels on the packages
which indicate that packing or the product itself is made from recycled materials. This is what is called closing the loop. Not only can consumers recycled/reuse their waste, but they can also buy recycled. This sends a message to the manufacturers that consumers deem environmentally sound decisions important!
Middle School Recycling Lessons