Proper recycling practices protect the environment — and recycling workers

Proper recycling practices — as encouraged by the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) through its “Know It Before You Throw It” education campaign — are not only good for the environment and economy.

They’re also important for the safety of people who work at any materials recovery facility (MRF) throughout the state where items placed in recycling bins are sorted.

Just ask Matt Van Benten, operations supervisor at the Resource Recovery and Recycling Authority of Southwest Oakland County (RRRASOC) MRF in Southfield.

“Safety is huge here — it’s our No. 1 concern, and it’s our No. 1 problem,” Van Benten said as he sorted through a box of potentially dangerous items that were pulled from the MRF’s conveyor line, including a bladed instrument, scissors and a cellphone.

“These are the kinds of things we don’t want to see,” he said. “There are homes for these, but your local recycling bin is not it.”

The dangers posed by sharp objects such as blades and scissors are obvious — they can injure workers who are sorting items moving down the MRF’s conveyor line. They’re particularly troublesome because they’re often hidden among material such as paper and plastic, Van Benten said.

“You don’t know where it is,” he said.

Electronic devices such as cellphones and old laptops are a no-no because they’re powered by lithium-ion batteries, which can explode when crushed or shaken.

“We’ve had explosions and fires here caused by things like this,” Van Benten said. “We’d like to have the message out there … this is not how you deal with that. Please, do it the right way.”

Information on proper disposal of hazardous waste is available on the EGLE website.

Check out the accompanying video for more advice from Van Benten on how to help keep recycling workers safe.

Join the Squad!

Help Michigan become a leader in recycling again. Join the squad today. You don't need to be a raccoon – you just need to sign up!

After signing up for recycling news, you will receive occasional updates. We will not sell your email address to any third party at any time. View our privacy policy.

    © Copyright 2024, EGLE. All Rights Reserved.

    This website uses cookies

    We use cookies to personalize ads, to provide social media features, and to analyze our traffic. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media advertising and analytics partners who may combine it with other information that you’ve provided to them or that they’ve collected from your use of their services. You consent to our cookies if you continue to use our website.

    Recycling Raccoons