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Equipment Upgrades at Gold Coast Recycling Improve Efficiency

Residents are encouraged to do their part to ensure clean recycling

RecyclingThe world of recycling has changed dramatically throwing residents and trash companies into a period of adjustment. Most significantly, China has gone from receiving nearly all our recycled goods for decades to tightening restrictions to the point of receiving almost none. “China is done,” said Danny Marks, CEO of Berg Mill Supply Co., the materials broker for Gold Coast Recycling in Ventura, destination for much of Thousand Oaks’ recyclables. “We had a good 25- to 30-year run with China and that’s no longer the case. By the end of 2020, 95 percent of what used to go to China will be banned.” Berg Mill saw this coming and was able to work with Gold Coast to develop international markets for recyclables outside China “for many years to come,” Marks said. “Not many others can say the same.” However, those markets are not paying well, if at all.

There’s also an eye on the domestic recycling industry, said George Harrison, general manager of Gold Coast Recycling. “The thinking is that the U.S. markets are going to have to come back,” Harrison said. “We do sell (recycled material) overseas, to Vietnam, Malaysia, South Korea … but the U.S. really needs to step it up. I’m pretty confident we will. The technology is out there. Somebody’s just got to spend the money.”

At Gold Coast, engineering Manager Mike Harrison recently oversaw a major equipment upgrade there which is helping create cleaner recycling loads in an efficient manner. After a four-month-long installation/transition process in the last quarter of 2018, a new sorting and baling system was put in place, and there’s already been a dramatic improvement in efficiencies. “The machinery is doing great,” George Harrison said. “We can run the new system much faster and cleaner. As a result, our monthly average diversion (of recyclable items from the landfill) is significantly better than before and the cleaner material is far more acceptable for the marketplace.”

Earlier this year, City of Thousand Oaks Sustainability staff took a tour of Gold Coast and observed staff on each side of the conveyor belts remove any material that either could cause damage to the machinery or that does not have a specific process for removal/separation. Some of these items include plastic bags , trash, hoses or bulky items, scrap metal and other unrecyclable plastics. As the material goes down the conveyor belts, machinery sorts various items through a complex maze of equipment. Magnets pull out metal objects, air jets separate paper and other objects by weight, screens filter out broken glass. After passing through the interwoven system of conveyor belts and equipment, all the recyclables are sorted by type and then recycled accordingly.

The Gold Coast Recycling Center relocates any trash pulled out to the transfer building where it is hauled to the landfill. Gold Coast sells the glass, scrap metal, mixed rigid plastic, and batteries to other local or foreign processors for recycling.  For example, glass is delivered to a processor in Los Angeles. Berg Mill, the broker, sells other recyclable commodities to various mills or processors in domestic or foreign markets, who then transform the material for their use. 

To achieve a greener environment our waste haulers, EJ Harrison and Waste Management, encourage residents to maintain their excellent recycling habits. That means placing the right items in the right bins and keeping recyclables clean and unbagged. (link to blog called “keep your recylcables clean and unbagged”)  Our app, RecycleTO will help you determine what item goes in which cart, and what to do with anything you want to get rid of from your home.

As a reminder, some items that should NOT be placed in the recycling bin include:

  • Plastic bags, bubble wrap, chip bags or any kind of soft plastic packaging including cling film, frozen food bags and even the packaging your mixed salad comes in at the supermarket.
  • Pizza boxes: Food contaminated containers can't be recycled because of the grease on the cardboard. Recycle the parts of the box that are clean and put the remainder in the trash.
  • Shopping receipts: they are comprised of a thermal material that cannot be recycled.
  • Decorative wrapping paper and greeting cards with foils and glitter.
  • Clothes: Bring them to a thrift store where they will be sold or recycled. Clothing jams recycling machinery.
  • Shredded paper: Though paper is recyclable, shredded paper will spread everywhere creating a mess, especially at the recycling plant. Professional paper shredding companies have the volume to arrange for recycling, so we recommend that method for document shredding.

To learn how to dispose of unusual items, click this link which contains one of our past blogs about unusual items :

 

Photo caption:
The newly upgraded machinery at Gold Coast Recycling in Ventura runs much faster and cleaner, helping to give Gold Coast a leg up in the struggling recycling industry.
Photo by Brendan Daly/Whisenhunt Communications

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