Posted on April 22, 2022
In 2018, the EPA reported that over 35 million tons of plastic waste were generated in the United States, but less than 9% of that plastic was recycled. That means over 90% of plastic waste in the US goes straight to the landfill. That’s over 30 million tons of plastic that could have been used again.
Plastic Recycling of Iowa Falls takes plastic waste from manufacturers like Kraft, Sargento, Asgrow, and more and uses it to make a new product that is nearly indestructible. “We have products that’ll hold two or three hundred thousand pounds of weight for example, and you’d never get that if we just took the polyethylene and molded it,” said Jim Hoffman, president of Plastic Recycling of Iowa Falls.
Plastic Recycling of Iowa Falls makes a lot of picnic tables and benches, but they also make equipment that first responders use to save lives. Because these products don’t have to be re-stained or restored, they essentially never need to be replaced, which can save cities and companies a lot of money.
But recycling can also save you money and divert unnecessary waste from the landfill, where it will stay until it can break down, which can take hundreds of years for some materials.
“The landfill has been filling up faster, we’re building more cells, more holes in the ground, faster. It ends up being more costly to you at the curb and your garbage rates go up,” said Metro Waste Authority Executive Director, Michael McCoy.
The Metro Waste Authority’s new recycling facility in Grimes took in 30,000 tons of material last year, but McCoy says they can handle a lot more. The facility also shows how other materials can be re-used and recycled into every day products as well as art.
“From the minute you walk into this facility, you can see the concrete underneath the stairways and the stairway going starting to go up is recycled glass inside the concrete. So you can see all those speckles. As you get onto the stairs to come up here to this education center, all recycled timber, and wood that’s been put in here and it’s a beautiful wood look as it was stained. When you look at the chandeliers fittings in the atrium, those are all recycled plastic bottles,” said McCoy.
Things like diapers and used pizza boxes are meant to end up in the landfill, but imagine a new life for those items that can be recycled. Will the glass bottle you drank out of last week become a bike trail you’ll someday ride on? Or will the hairspray you used this morning someday be used on a plane taking you on your next vacation? The possibilities are endless as long as your recyclable material makes it into the recycling bin.
The Metro Waste Authority believes education at a young age is key to getting people to recycle properly or at all. Their education center will be open for all visitors this summer.
They also plan to utilize virtual reality headsets in the classroom. For those schools who are unable to take a field trip to the facility, the MWA will come to the school and provide headsets for students to learn about the recycling processes.