Residents watch as recycled materials are sorted April 20 at the Resource Recovery and Recycling Authority of Southwest Oakland County. Tours of the facility were given in celebration of Earth Day.

Residents watch as recycled materials are sorted April 20 at the Resource Recovery and Recycling Authority of Southwest Oakland County. Tours of the facility were given in celebration of Earth Day.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


Southfield facility offers behind-the-scenes look at recycling

By: Kayla Dimick | Southfield Sun | Published April 24, 2019

 Fifth-grader Shaila Cranson and fourth-grader Asabella Brydie lead tours of the Materials Recovery Facility.

Fifth-grader Shaila Cranson and fourth-grader Asabella Brydie lead tours of the Materials Recovery Facility.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

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SOUTHFIELD — In celebration of Earth Day, officials from the Resource Recovery and Recycling Authority of Southwest Oakland County opened up their Materials Recovery Facility April 20 for residents to get a glimpse of the life cycle of recyclables.

Community members were invited to tour the facility, located at 20000 W. Eight Mile Road, to see firsthand how their recyclables are separated, sorted and converted into other resources, along with household hazardous waste collection.

RRRASOC is an expansive operation that provides recycling services for the cities of Southfield, Farmington, Farmington Hills, Walled Lake, Novi, South Lyon and Wixom. It has been in operation since 1989, and in 2011 it underwent a $4 million expansion.

“This year for our spring event, because we’re so near Earth Day and it’s important for us to have people come through, we’re having an open house,” RRRASOC General Manager Mike Csapo said.

Csapo said RRRASOC hosts open houses every three to five years, and it regularly hosts tours for school groups.

“We’ve been pleased with the turnout coming from all of our communities, and having that opportunity to not just walk through the plant and see what we do and see what happens to the material they recycle, but have conversations about what you can and cannot recycle, why recycling is important, what they can do to encourage product stewardship and community stewardship.”

For example, Csapo reiterates often that plastic grocery bags cannot be recycled at the facility, and they do more harm than good when they’re put in the recycling bin.

“Certainly, we want people to understand recycling is important. We want them to recycle more, but we want them to recycle right, so we want them to understand what they can and cannot recycle,” Csapo said.

Attendees were asked to wear long pants and closed-toe and closed-heel shoes for the tour, and upon arrival, they were given safety hats, safety glasses and reflective hats.

A team of five students — ranging from fourth-graders to seventh-graders from local schools — helped lead the tours. Shaila Cranson, a fifth-grader at Farmington STEAM Academy, was among them.

“We just take people through the machines and we show them all the machines. They take pictures and we give them info,” Cranson said. “I came here on a field trip with my class. … I thought it was interesting they could make so many things out of recycled materials.”

Students who showed enthusiasm about recycling on their field trips were invited to help lead the tours.

“You have to do training at home. You have to write a paragraph or more on why you think that you would be a great student tour guide,” said Asabella Brydie, a fourth-grade student at Hillside Elementary School in Farmington Hills.

Csapo said that for those who missed the open house, arrangements to tour the facility can be made by calling (248) 208-2270.

A complete list of acceptable household hazardous waste items is available on the RRRASOC website, rrrasoc.org.

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