Mar 3, 2010

Garbage In, Garden Out

Enlightened people do feel responsible and separate the paper, plastic, and glass in their trash. Many of us don't. More than 63 million tons of US recyclables end up in landfills every year. Global Renewables might be able to shrink that number. The Australia-based company built a facility in Sydney that combines every trash-sorting technology imaginable — wind sifters, optical scanners, magnets, electrical currents. It diverts 75 percent of the city's waste stream to recycling, conserving landfill space and cutting down on greenhouse gases. Rotting garbage gives off methane, so less landfill equals less climatic apocalypse. On the strength of its Sydney plant, Global Renewables just got $627 million to construct two similar facilities in the UK. Here's how they separate the treasure from the trash. 

An Illustration by Sonia Zjawinski