Rose Naseef, Go Green La Grange!
First stop, the Allied Waste Liberty Transfer Station
Ever wonder what happens to your household waste, yard waste, and recycling once it leaves the curb? A few residents in La Grange did, so we contacted Allied Waste and inquired. They told us that everything goes first to their transfer station in Mc Cook. We headed over there to take a look and to ask some questions.
La Grange is one of several communities that participate in a Regional Disposal Project, coordinated by the West Cook County Solid Waste Agency (WCCSWA). In La Grange, Allied Waste collects residential household waste, yard waste, and recycling and hauls it about 10 minutes away to a transfer station in Mc Cook. There, trucks from La Grange and other communities dump their loads into one of the three piles. The materials don’t stay long though, as a different set of Allied Waste trucks removes the debris and takes it to its next destination.
Household waste travels approximately 80 miles to a landfill in Livingston County, Illinois. Trucks dump the trash into a lined landfill which apparently has the capacity for many years’ worth of garbage. Allied Waste will occasionally divert a large or valuable object, like metal or concrete, from the trash for recycling. However, it generally does not sort through garbage received. Allied Waste staff stated that the public can tour the landfill during one of its yearly open houses.
Allied Waste sells its recycling materials to Resource Management, which runs a recycling facility in Chicago Ridge. In addition to receiving materials from the Mc Cook transfer station, the facility accepts recyclables from many communities in the Chicago area. We learned that approximately 10 percent of the material received from La Grange is not acceptable recyclable material. This material includes Styrofoam, packing peanuts, clothes hangers, fabric, plastic bags, toys, potato chip bags, baggies, and used tissues. It appears that Resource Management offers a tour of its recycling facility.
Allied Waste has to pay to discard its collected yard waste, which is sent to Hamman Farms in Plainfield, Illinois. The farm apparently composts the material and works it into the ground to create a rich soil.
Allied Waste staff reported the following interesting facts:
- Europe is farther along in its waste processing, as landfill space is at more of a premium there. Developments in Europe can provide insight about the future of waste processing in America.
- Waste has decreased as the economy has slowed, resulting in layoffs at Allied Waste.
- With the aim of creating less pollution, Allied Waste hopes to convert some of its trucks to run on natural gas in the near future.
- Allied Waste also owns C&D Recycling in Chicago, which accepts demolition debris. Recycling is available for businesses and homeowners who want to be environmentally responsible with their demolition and remodeling.