Thursday, May 23, 2013

Tour of the Landfill and Recycling Facilities

A small group of friends toured the Little Rock Landfill and Recycling facilities today.  I got the idea when visiting the Flower and Garden Show a few months ago - they were giving away small bags of compost.  I thought, "I want to know how they do this.  And I'm sure it would be interesting for kids."  

Sure enough they do tours for school groups.  It was a very interesting tour and I would recommend you going - especially in small groups of 15 or less.  (I don't enjoy tours with large groups.)

Below you see a mountain of yard waste.  In the mid-90's it became a (sensible) law that yard waste could not be mixed with the trash.  If you live in central Arkansas, you will well remember the powerless Christmas day storm that left some people without power for a week.  The composting team is still working through the debris.
 Below is the mulcher.  It grinds up trees as well as bags of leaves.  They usually do the wood separately from the smaller, easier to grind things.
 I'm not sure why some of my pictures turned on their side and I'm not going to waste time to figure it out...I'm sorry for the strained neck.  :)

After the compost is shredded, it is put in rows to "cook."  The below machinery is for turning the compost while keeping it in neat rows.  After cooking, the compost is run through a screen that removes the pieces of plastic bags.

 This is a mountain of finished compost, maybe 30 feet tall.  If you drive out to the facilities, the mulch and compost are very inexpensive.  I want to say that for another couple of weeks, a truck load of mulch is only $10.  The compost isn't much more.
 And here are two rows (of many) of compost.  They keep an eye on the temperature so that it doesn't spontaneously combust.  Seriously.
After viewing the composting we continued our tour in a 15 passenger van up the hill to where the garbage is dumped.

We learned many interesting factoids about the landfill.  Some I knew already because I briefly studied landfills in college but even those who did not study mounds of trash found it interesting.  

Did you know the landfill emits methane gas; the city sells this gas?  Or, that the leachate (the garbage juice that drains from the garbage) is piped into the waste water system?  yech.  Or, at 4:00 everyday the garbage is covered with six inches of dirt?  Surprisingly it did not stink.

However, the recycling center had a bit of a smell.

The recycling center was about a 15 minute drive from the landfill.  Once there we watched a brief and interesting video about how they separate the recyclables.  Then the shades were lifted in the education room and we were able to see first hand the mounds of recycled materials.

Out side were bales of plastic and steel that we could inspect further.
 The tours lasted about 2 hours.  Call Barbara Meier 918-5260 to set up your field trip.