Mayor Erin Mendenhall took her first tour on Friday of a waste management facility in Salt Lake City that opened its doors back in July.
There was no grand opening due to COVID-19, so this was the first time Mayor Mendenhall could see the facility in charge of all recycling for Salt Lake City.
It may look like a lot of trash, but even this waste has a second chance at life — well, most of it.
Mark Snedecor, the recycling operations area director for Waste Management, said it takes about 30 days before the recycled material that’s been through their system is used again.
“Your cardboard can be back into an Amazon box in 30 days, 60 days,” said Snedecor. “Your water bottle today could be recycled and in someone’s clothing in a couple of months.”
The large majority of the plastics, papers and aluminum cans — above 95 percent — is recycled.
On average, Snedecor said about 80 percent of what’s put in your blue can is recyclable — 20 percent is contaminated.
Chris Bell, the Waste and Recycling Division director for Salt Lake City, said the area brings in 1.5 million pounds to the facility a month.
Bell said they gave a goal for zero percent waste by 2040.
“We’re hovering around a 40 percent diversion rate from our curbside recycling to our green waste composite program,” said Bell.
Sifting through waste from the past is all about building a better future.
“We can really educate people about how they can impact the world and be sustainable for the future, for the next ones and try to improve the habits,” said Snedecor.
Workers said they make about 87 bales every single day.
More than 95 percent of the recycled material sold for reuse out of that plant is sold domestically, while the other five percent is sold to international markets.