Ted Waddell | Democrat
A GROUP OF concerned Sullivan County residents tour the Star Lab, part of the MRF’s Herb Reisman Environmental Education Center. The galvanized garbage cans are filled with a typical family’s month’s worth of recyclables..
By Ted Waddell
HILLBURN On Tuesday, a small group of Sullivan County residents visited the Rockland County Solid Waste Management Authority’s (RCSWMA) state-of-the-art Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) to get some ideas about what the county can do with its trash in the wake of a proposed expansion to the existing and overburdened landfill in Monticello getting axed.
The MRF was designed to sort and consolidate commingled recyclables collected from residents, businesses and institutions.
The facility’s sorting process includes a combination of automated and manual systems.
The recovered materials, including various grades of paper, glass, plastic and metal, are sold to remanufacturing facilities to be converted into new products.
Reportedly, up to 60 percent of the waste stream is recyclable, with the ultimate goal being to have as little “residual” (to be carted away) waste as possible.
A unique feature of the MRF is the ability to convert sludge from sewage waste treatment plants into compost, which can then be used in landscaping and other enterprises.
At the Herb Reisman Environmental Education Center, tours are available for school groups in grades 2-12 and other interested parties.
The three-part tours start with a lecture by a guide, followed by a chance to watch the recycling center in operation via closed circuit cameras and a viewing window, and concludes with a visit to the center’s Star Lab where visitors can explore environmental issues and their solutions though interactive exhibits.
The 30,625 square-foot MRF opened in 1998 and can process more than 53,000 tons of plastic, glass, various metals and all types of paper products annually, and more than 205 tons of material each day of operation.
“It’s important that we take care of our own garbage, and it’s my belief that if we create it we should handle it in the county and we shouldn’t take anyone else’s,” said Linda Babicz, supervisor of the Town of Callicoon.
Janet Newberg serves as president of Special Protection for the Environment of the County of Sullivan (SPECS), which was established in 2002.
As a member of the fact-finding group, she said the DEC has hosted numerous round table discussions around the state to address issues related to trash, landfills and recycling.
“The talk is composting and recycling,” said Newberg. “People and governments have to see the benefits of caring for our resources.”
Regarding the Rockland MRF she said, “Instead of thinking of the waste stream as garbage, they see it as a resource. There’s no reason why we couldn’t duplicate it [in Sullivan].”
Cathy Farris, SPECS treasurer, said of the existing Sullivan County landfill, “According to an EPA statement, all landfill liners eventually leak. People have to be aware of the dangers.”
“We need to go in another direction, and recycling and composting is the only direction we can go in, and it can be economically feasible if it’s done right,” Farris added