August 3 marked the first day of Allied Waste's new no-sort curbside recycling service, which saves customers from sifting through junk mail and stale beer cans.
"We're really excited," says Allied Waste General Manager Max Bauer. "The program is really customer-friendly."
Allied Waste is supplying private residences with 90-gallon carts and commercial properties with 300-gallon tubs. Both accept 12 types of recyclable goods, including tin cans, aluminum and Nos. 1 and 2 plastics. But not glass. Bauer explains that glass contaminates the whole load, requiring it to be sent to the landfill.
The carts and tubs will be emptied with new automated trucks equipped with mechanical arms. The loads are baled and sent to Seattle. David Seeberger, manager of Missoula Recycle Reform, explains that the Rabanco mill in Seattle has technology that can more efficiently sort the commingled recyclables. "They use an infrared eye to determine if it's a 1 or 2 plastic and screens to separate it out," Seeberger says. "They have air currents to blow out paper products and magnets to pick steel from tin cans. It's a really neat process."
Seeberger encourages customers to follow the company's list of recyclable goods. Plastic bags, Styrofoam and products with wax and plastic linings are non-recyclable. Those must be picked out by hand at the Seattle plant.
The company designed the new program after its purchase of Missoula Valley Recycling on Aug. 1. It will also add more collection bins near the Grant Creek and Frenchtown areas, giving residents free opportunities to drop off recycling.
Bauer reports that, by purchasing MVR, Allied Waste gained a couple of hundred customers and added routes to their existing recycling service, which processes between 500 and 600 tons of recyclables a month. Bauer says the only change in price that customers will see on their bills is a small fee for fuel associated with shipping to Seattle. The fee reflects diesel prices and varies monthly.
Allied Waste customers will need new recycling bins for the service. Those should be delivered by the end of next week.