The ‘Walk In My Shoes’ (WIMS) initiative gives the chance to experience work-life in someone else’s shoes or to show what it’s like in yours. I tried to think what would illustrate my role as waste coordinator. I came up with a visit to a Materials Recovery Facility where my friends at Veolia could demonstrate how the mixed bags of recycling that our staff and students contribute to are separated into cubes of pure paper, aluminum, plastics etc.
Both academic and administrative attended and seemed to enjoy the trip. The first step in the process for the mixed recycling is for the bags to be ripped apart so that the separating machines can get at the recyclates inside. There also lots of people picking out any dangerous contamination such as textiles which can wrap themselves around the machinery and cause damage.
We then witnessed magnets picking out the iron cans, electrical currents identifying the aluminum cans and machines that use gravity to separate out different sized fractions.
The aim of the plant was to provide very pure materials that can be recycled by other companies into new materials. With most materials they go back into what they were before but with glass they may be used to build roads instead as most plants don’t separate the different kinds of glass well enough for it to go back into being used as glass. This video demonstrates a similar process.
If you have any questions about recycling or would like to go on a similar trip let me know.
He has a degree in Environmental Management and Geography and completed an MSc in Sustainability, Planning and Environmental Policy.