February 11 found the new, and not-so-new, Master Recyclers going on a field trip to places most of them had not gone before and, definitely beyond expectations. “We try to follow up each Master Recycler course with a field trip to related industries outside Tillamook County,” states Sue Owens, program coordinator. “I think we outdid ourselves this time!”
The day began early as the 15 students and invited guests boarded the Tillamook Transportation District’s brand new bus and headed to Salem where they visited the Garten Materials Recovery Facility, or more commonly called, “MRF”. Here a dedicated staff of individuals with disabilities earn livable incomes and benefits and a right to be proud as they hand and machine sort garbage and recyclables. After the MRF, the Master Recyclers headed over to Marion County Juvenile Department where they toured the EPS (Expanded Polystyrene, commonly known as “Styrofoam”) densifier which offers young offenders a chance to learn job skills while dealing with a hard-to-recycle product. After enjoying a lunch prepared by more young offenders trying to improve at the Fresh Start Café they traveled to Corvallis, to the Coffin Butte Landfill where all Tillamook County’s garbage is taken. “It’s eye-opening to see the end of the road, so-to-speak of our garbage,” states Owens. Currently over 20,000 tons of garbage is hauled here from Tillamook County each year. “That is a number we hope to reduce significantly in the next five years,” states David McCall, Tillamook County Solid Waste Program Manager. “Every pound of garbage we divert from the landfill results in savings in transportation and disposal costs. The Master Recyclers can help us change our ways, resulting in significant savings as well.” The waste-tourists also visited Coffin Butte’s gas-to-energy plant where Methane gas from the landfill is converted into energy which is then piped into the electrical system. The last stop on the trip was at the Coffin Butte commercial composting yard.
On the trip home one would have thought everyone would have been dozing after such a full day, but on the contrary, everyone was buzzing with excitement about the adventures of the day. If you’d like to hear about the trip, or at least see photos, visit the Solid Waste website at http://www.co.tillamook.or.us/gov/SolidWaste/MasterRecycler.htm or, better yet, ask one of the folks who went!