On the day before Earth Day, Memphis recycling trucks lined up at a processing facility near Lamar and American Way Friday to dump their loads of plastic, paper, metal and glass into large piles that a front-end loader pushed together amid the "pop-pop-pop" sound of water and soft-drink bottles being crushed.
Inside the facility run by ReCommunity Recycling, the material was funneled onto conveyor belts that ran past teams of workers who culled contaminants. Optical sorters then separated paper from plastic, while powerful magnets pulled out the metals -- all part of an highly automated operation that processed the material at a rate of up to 19 tons per hour.
"Our business is keeping all that (equipment) running, because the trucks don't stop," said plant manager James Eller.
Earth Day weekend or not, curbside recycling is on the upswing in Memphis. This year, the city is on pace to collect some 20,000 tons of recyclables -- nearly triple the amount of most previous years. More