Reaction to Tour of Material Recovery Facility in Ann Arbor, MI

Upon arriving at the Material Recovery Facility in Ann Arbor, Michigan, it’s difficult not to pay attention to the large amount of dust and debris that cover the premesis. Bits of should-be-recycled materials, like crushed water bottles and strips of old magazines, and flat out trash, like potato chip packaging and rotten food, stick to nearly every open area on the MRF. The chain-link fence surrounding the facility has captured what looks like thousands of bits of materials.

Walk over to the composting area and it is clear to see that much of the natural matter has not been taken out of their yard-work bags. These paper bags lie on top of the huge  mounds of decomposing matter.
My personal reaction to these sites was an overall negative one. I continued to think that, although it is inevitable to have a perfectly clean space since the facility is used for sorting materials using huge machinery very quickly, the MRF should have some more efficient way of cleaning up. When presented with a question about this, Mackenzie, Environmental Educator at the MRF said, “the facility is swept between shifts, but it’s never really clear of debris and dust.”
To me, it doesn’t look like the workers at the MRF are working in a safe environment. One of the workers could easily trip over a smashed can or styrofoam plate that is lying on the stairs high in the air and tangled up between machinery. Walking through the MRF, I had to constantly watch my step and beware of broken glass that covered the floor.
I’m curious to see what kind, if any, benefits the workers get and if they feel as if they are safe in their work environment. I am also interested in finding out ways that the MRF could clean up their premesis. Not only does all the loose debris look bad and unprofessional, it also poses a risk to the workers there.
Overall I really enjoyed this field trip! It was a great learning experience and a nice way to stay aware about recycling.

About heathercnet

19, University of Michigan student, Michigan Marching Band

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