Mega-recycling event in Bloomington

By WEEK Producer

November 17, 2012 Updated Nov 19, 2012 at 10:47 AM CDT

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. -- It's trash day in Bloomington, only this trash won't wind up in a landfill.

"Essentially we're promoting a lot of different non-traditional recycling programs in our community by providing one-stop recycling for residents," said Michael Brown from the Ecology Action Center in Normal.

That meant people dropping off old electronics, appliances, paper, and even old toothpaste tubes and flip flops.

It's part of a nationwide initiative called America Recycles Day, and there were a few surprises.

"We had some solar panels come through a little while ago," said Brown. "It's not something that we're sure that we can recycle, but we're going to try."

For five hours, there was a constant stream of traffic into one of the parking lots at Illinois Wesleyan University.

Some of the most intense activity took place at the shredder.

"(Paper) is dumped into the bin and then its taken over to the truck," explained Rob Hargis, who works for COPS Shred Service. "Then, it's taken up inside and there are opposing shafts inside, like crankshafts but with knives of them. They chop it up and shove it into a holding compartment in the rear."

That rear compartment holds seven tons of shredded paper.

A year ago, in its first year, the event collected over 22,000 pounds of items to be recycled. That's more than 11 tons. In just the first 90 minutes on Saturday, collections exceeded half that total.

Susan Bruehl loaded up her van first thing in the morning.

"We try to recycle as much as we can," said Bruehl. "We do curbside, we've done that for years. I try to keep things out of the landfill as much as I can. I have a huge TV in the basement, but I can't lift it to bring it."

Items like old clothing won't be recycled, but will instead be re-used.

"Some of these items are being accepted by one of our partners, Home Sweet Home Ministries," said Brown. "They might actually go to a re-use and go to their Mission Mart store for people to re-use."

Saturday's mega-recycling event was organized by the Ecology Action Center in Normal and Illinois Wesleyan University.