Firstar Recycling Facility – Omaha
Back in November, Nebraska Conservation Education Fund hosted two tours of Firstar Fiber’s Omaha recycling facility. We learned how recycling is sorted by a mixture of machinery and by hand. It is then combined into bales, as seen in the picture above. We also learned how recycling is trickier than one might think. For example, if cardboard is too wet it will be thrown away because end-users only wants to pay for the cardboard, not water. Shiny paper, like glossy wrapping paper, cannot be recycled either because most are either laminated or can contain additives, such as glitter.
We also learned how recycling in 2019 does not make a large profit – depending on where you live it may even cost you money to recycle. But there are hidden environmental costs to our modern trash system. Landfills risk contaminating our water supplies and can release harmful chemicals, such as methane, into the environment. As landfills fill up and close, we have to ship our trash further away, which is not only expensive but creates a large carbon footprint. In the long-run, recycling is less expensive and makes for healthier communities.