It’s easy to forget the things that we don’t see regularly. Calendars, post it notes, whiteboards – things we use to scribble down notes as our reminders. So what about trash that gets scooped away from us the moment we discard it?
Waste management facilities are normally located away from us; away from busy, densed areas as they need bigger space to operate (and they’re probably not something that you’d want in your backyard).
Alpine is the waste and recycling provider for the City of Golden and has landfill, compost and recycling facilities.
Large trucks collect trash from the transfer station and dumps them on the landfill about 30 to 40 times a day. Each truck would dispose about 24 tonnes per trip – equivalent to 720 to 960 tonnes per day. It is estimated that half of the trash disposed at landfill is most likely to be reusable/ recyclable/ compostable.
The compost mixture consists of a 2:1 ratio of green or yard waste, and food waste. Large green waste needs to be broken down first using a grinder. As for food waste, they are left whole (not crushed or grinded) which provides the compost mixture with moisture that is needed for the composting process.
The mixture is put in piles of 12 to 15 feet in height which are turned and monitored to ensure sufficient moisture for a minimum of 10 weeks. The temperature of the piles are also regularly checked and would need to be reach 131 degrees fahrenheit or more – this is why we can see steam coming off from the piles. Once the process is completed, the product is sent to a lab for quality check and Alpine screens it further before the product is sold off.
An interesting fact is that Alpine has a contract with King Soopers who drops off their compostables at Alpine, and the finished product gets sold off at King Soopers during the summer.
Alpine accepts and collects single-stream recyclables and sorts them in the recycling facility. The facility is advanced and hi-tech which was designed by the vice president. The recyclables go through a series of machines which sorts out different recyclables. The facility also employs a manpower, but as this is not a popular job to do the facility also makes use of artificial intelligent robots. The separated recyclables are then compiled and bailed, and transported out.
Having the chance to see first-hand where our trash goes and the amount of effort that goes into managing it acts as a reminder that the waste management issue is big and can be daunting, particularly if one is running out of landfill space (which applies to Brunei). If we are able to better understand the consequences of our actions, and help remind one another, the waste issue can move away from being an “out of sight, out of mind” topic.