Trip: SIMS Recycling Facility

Lichi Zhu

11/18/2015

We recently spent the day in the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn to take a look at the newly opened Sims Municipal Recycling facility that focuses on material recovery. The Sunset Park Material Recovery Facility is a processing center for New York City’s curbside metal, glass, and plastic recyclables which is being undertaken by Sims Municipal Recycling and the City of New York. Before I go to Sims Municipal Recycling, I have no idea about how government manage life garbage. After this trip, I know that materials are received from City collection vehicles at Sims Metal Management facilities and then moved between facilities by barge to minimize truck traffic and air pollution within the City. The materials are sorted by commodity type, packaged and shipped to manufacturers as raw material for new products. The facility’s design was influenced by the neighborhood’s industrial vocabulary, as well as its programmatic use as a recycling center which inspired reuse throughout. Just one step in the recycling process, this facility sorts recyclable materials from all five boroughs of New York City. The facility—which itself is made almost entirely of recycled steel—uses the most state-of-the-art technology to process the bulk of the almost 900 tons of material delivered there per day. We got some valuable insights into how that giant load of stuff is sorted and prepared to become future products. One of the secrets: high-tech cameras that scan every single object on the conveyor belt. It can separate each object as faster as possible in order to sort out the plastic, glass and metal from the garbage in the facility. These recyclables things are sold to many different companies and produces other new products. This is a very helpful system for Sustainable Development because the quality of urban living has been damaged by excessive consumer waste.

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