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Tag Archive | "Kent County Recycling & Education Center"

Recycling Center undergoing upgrades to paper sorting

Will be temporarily closed to residential drop offs

The Kent County Recycling & Education Center at 977 Wealthy St. SW is scheduling upgrades to improve efficiency and quality by replacing the mechanical screens used to sort paper. Renovations will take place starting Monday, Feb. 24 and last until approximately Friday, March 13. The facility will be closed and unable to accept recyclable materials, from both curbside and drop-off locations, for processing while new equipment is installed.

“Periodic upgrades and renovations, like the replacement of our paper screens, ensure the recycling facility is up-to-date and can efficiently and reliably process clean materials for recycling markets,” said Nic VanderVinne, Resource Recovery & Recycling Manager for the Kent County Department of Public Works. “The Kent County Recycling & Education Center allows residents to conveniently recycle materials with a single-stream sorting process, that requires we have screens to automate the sorting process for materials like glass, metal, plastic and paper.”

Paper accounts for 70% of the processed material at the Kent County Recycling & Education Center (REC). In 2019, the Kent County REC processed 16,692 tons of paper product, the equivalent of 283,764 trees. The facility sorts out at least a truckload of paper every day. The screens used to sort paper are original equipment from when the Kent County REC opened in 2010 and have run for over 30,000 operational hours.

“The recycling industry has changed significantly in the past few years due to increased global import restrictions,” said Dar Baas, director of Kent County Department of Public Works. “It’s imperative we make improvements to keep producing a high-quality product in a very competitive domestic market.”

The Post contacted Arrowaste, Inc., the main garbage provider here in Cedar Springs, and asked if this will impact our curbside pickup of recycling in any way.

“The Kent County shut-down update applies to drop off stations for residents, but not to haulers at this time, so your services will continue as scheduled unless otherwise communicated,” said an Arrowaste spokesperson.

The Kent County Recycling & Education Center is approaching its 10th year of single-stream recycling. Over the past decade, the center has undergone periodic maintenance and upgrades to adapt to changes in community recycling habits and packaging trends. In 2017, Kent County added equipment to accept paper cartons and improve automation.

“We are giving advance notice to ensure residents can get as much of their existing recycling picked up and recycled before the February 24 temporary closure,” said Baas. “We understand this is inconvenient but it’s necessary to ensure we can continue to be a reliable processor of recyclables for the region.”

Updates and more information on the temporary closure will be available at www.reimaginetrash.org or call 616-632-7945.

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Propane tanks cause explosion at recycling center

An explosion at the Kent County Recycling Center last week was caused by three small propane tanks someone had tried to recycle. Photo courtesy Kent County.

Pictured are thethree small propane tanks someone had tried to recycle that are believed to be the cause of the fire. Photo courtesy Kent County.

By Judy Reed

Three small propane tanks, improperly disposed of, were the cause of an explosion inside a baler at the Kent County Recycling & Education Center at 977 Wealthy SW in Grand Rapids last Thursday morning, June 22.

According to Kristen Wieland, the Communications & Marketing Manager for the Kent County Department of Public Works, the explosion occurred at 7:45 a.m., shortly after they started up the sorting equipment for the day. Grand Rapids Fire Department was dispatched, and one Kent County staff person was taken for medical observation.

Grand Rapids Fire was called to the scene of this explosion at the Kent County Recycling Center last Thursday. Photo courtesy Kent County.

Wieland explained that there are a series of conveyor belts and other equipment that help move the recyclables through the plant. “The belts pass by 26 people around the plant who are each responsible for sorting specific materials. Fairly early in the sorting process, a strong magnet automatically pulls out ferrous metals. That’s where the propane tank would’ve gotten removed from the sorting line.

“The ferrous metals are dropped by the magnet into a storage area where they sit until we have a sufficient quantity to bale. Kent County staff was baling ferrous metals when the explosion occurred. Three of the one-pound propane tanks were found in the residue from the explosion,” she said.

“Though they’re considered disposable, small camping-style propane cylinders are not recyclable. With camping season upon us, it is critically important that these metal tanks be disposed of properly,” said Wieland.

Instead, propane tanks of all sizes should be brought for safe disposal to any of these locations:

  • South Kent Recycling & Waste Center, 10300 South Kent Drive, Byron Center
  • North Kent Recycling & Waste Center, 2908 Ten Mile Road, Rockford
  • Or any of Kent County’s SafeChem household hazardous waste drop off centers, listed at www.accesskent.com/waste.

Wieland added that it was nearly one year ago to the date of their last significant explosion though that one was less severe. A propane tank was also suspected as the cause of that incident.

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