MRF Reflection

Walking through the Materials Recovery Facility in Ann Arbor, the trash was not only smelly and unpleasant to look at (which was expected), but also unorganized and all over the floor.  I found myself stepping on bottles and cans, in places where this material would surely never get back on the line.   I was astonished at the inefficiencies of the facility.  There were some impressive things that the plant was doing, like creating huge stores of wood chips and mulch from compost, but there is definitely room for improvement at the plant.  Having so many workers on an assembly line, sorting trash by hand for hours on end cannot be the most effective and efficient way to recycle material.  I agreed with our tour guide MacKenzie when she suggested that the trash be put through the line twice, to make sure it’s mostly sorted in the right places.  Not only that, but I think that the compost should be collected all year.  A compost system that only picks up for 3/4 of the year can dissuade people from composting at all, because they won’t know what to do with their compost in the winter.   Overall, I wish the process was more streamlined, but I really like what the MRF does.  I hope more facilities like the MRF are created, as there is only a handful in Michigan, not only because it will help the environment, but as Gov. Snyder said, when we throw away trash, we are throwing away money.

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About colezingas

Hey I'm Cole, I am very excited to be taking Photobook with all of you! I took an introductory photography class my senior year of high school, in which I got to learn the techniques of photography and play around with film cameras! I'm looking forward to this class so that I can take the next step, and use my photos to create a story.

2 Responses to “MRF Reflection”

  1. Nice, descriptive writing here Cole. Your post could be criticized for not paying enough attention to costs, though. Could you make reference to these costs, even if you don’t know exactly how big they’ll be? What reporting angles did you pick up on when you visited the recycling facility?

  2. Yes, one stat that MacKenzie mentioned was that it costs $16.00 for one ton of trash and $34.00 for one ton of recycled material, and that cost for recycling might go up even higher if new procedures and policies were implemented for the plant, but I think over time the benefits would outweigh the costs, because with more efficient recycling, more material will be recycled, giving more money back to the facilities while leaving more space in landfills in the long run.

    One interesting angle I picked up was the effectiveness of composting. Because the largest portion of our waste is food waste, if that is composted, it all turns back into healthy soil and wood chips which are all used once again. The alternative, throwing waste out and having it transported to landfills, is not environmentally or economically friendly. I’m not really sure how I would put a “new” spin on it, but I could mention the push to get year round composting in Ann Arbor.

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