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Demand For Recyclables Increases In Utah

SALT LAKE CITY, UtahSalt Lake City leaders toured a new state-of-the-art recycling facility in town, where workers said the demand for those items has increased recently.

You can tell how popular Amazon has become just by going to a recycling facility.

“I love the boxes of cardboard,” said Mark Snedecor, a manager with Waste Management. “You know that you’re doing good at the end of every day. It’s something that’s really awesome.”

When Snedecor took Salt Lake City leaders on a tour of their new recycling facility on the west side of town Friday afternoon, you could tell he was proud.

“It’s great to be a little more sustainable as a race,” he said. “We’ve only got one planet, so the more we can reuse and reduce and recycle, it’s great.”

Snedecor said the facility, which opened last summer, is one of the most advanced in the country.

It uses sorting optics, 3D motion separators and advanced automation to sort cardboard from metal from plastic and some garbage.

“It can read and understand in a 6-inch span, moving 600 feet per minute,” said Snedecor. “Pretty incredible.”

Of course, it still needs good old-fashioned humans to help move it all along.

In all, about 6,000 tons gets recycled and sorted into individual bales at the facility every month.

Snedecor said the market for those items has increased recently.

“We were in the doldrums a couple of years ago, he said. “Everybody had heard about China and how they’re not recycling anymore. What we’ve seen is a resurgence in the domestic demand for it, and a lot more paper and boxes and plastics and everything here. About 95 percent is what’s made out of this plant stays within the United States.”

Because of stories about some recyclers throwing these items into a landfill, Salt Lake City leaders wanted to make sure that wasn’t going to happen at the facility before signing a 10-year deal with Waste Management.

“There has been a lot of lost trust in the recycling process because of a lot of negative stories that they’ve seen the last few years, and some of that has been well founded,” said Chris Bell, who is Salt Lake City’s director of waste and recycling.

However, Bell and other city leaders said they trust what’s being done at the facility and believe the public can, too.

“We want them to know that if they’re doing their part at home, we’re doing the rest very responsibly,” said Bell.

“It’s our way of making it a little more sustainable,” said Snedecor.

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