Ask Waste Watchers: Get an up-close look at trash facilities
Special to the Daily
My environmental science class is beginning a module on recycling. Would it be possible for us to tour the landfill facilities?
Gabrielle in Vail
Thanks for the great question, Gabrielle. Landfill tours are available to groups of both children and adults but are not currently available to individuals.
Landfill facilities are operated by Eagle County government, which means they belong to all of our citizens. A tour is a great opportunity for your class to see how each facility operates and understand their role in protecting the environment and keeping Eagle County clean. We do request that you provide us with at least two weeks’ advance notice to prepare for your group to visit.
A typical tour of the various landfill facilities begins with the Materials Recycling Facility, then on to the Household Hazardous Waste facility, and finally the actual landfill itself.
Here is a brief overview of what you can expect to see during your tour:
Materials recycling facility: The first stop on your tour is the MRF, where recyclable items like cans, paper, cardboard, glass and plastic are sorted and prepared for shipment. You will see recyclable items travel through many machine processes such as an optical sorter, eddy current, perforator, glass breaker, baler and others. The end result is compact bales of sorted materials that are ready to be shipped around the country for processing. In order to prevent possible injury, everyone entering the MRF will be required to wear safety glasses, hearing protection and a hard hat.
Household hazardous waste facility: Your next stop will be the HHW. This modern facility is where residents and small businesses discard hazardous materials that should not be disposed of with regular trash.
The HHW tour will vary depending on the age of the students in your group. Younger “hands-on” learners enjoy the eye wash, electronic scales, and light bulb crusher. More advanced topics in chemistry and governmental regulations are often discussed with older students and adult tour groups.
Landfill cell: For the final part of the tour, you will visit the actual landfill cell. For those who enjoy watching huge machinery moving earth, grading roads, digging holes and crushing garbage, you will find this part of the tour very interesting. One piece of equipment, called a compactor, weighs 118,000 pounds! There are big piles of wood, tires and metal waiting to be chipped, baled or shipped for recycling. A lot of young visitors find the leachate pond, where the “trash juice” collects, to be a most memorable experience.
Joseph Walls is hazardous-waste specialist at the Eagle County Household Hazardous Waste facility, located at the landfill in Wolcott. The facility is open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday. Call 970-328-3468 or visit http://www.eaglecounty.us/recyclingwaste.