A few weeks ago, a 300 pound magnet was delivered from Michigan to Saul Varela, Solid Waste Manager, at the Teton County Transfer Station. Teton Valley Community Recycling purchased this industrial magnet for the county through a generous grant from the CHC Foundation in Idaho Falls. It is designed to be mounted on a forklift and then can sweep the floors of the Recycling Center building and the construction waste pile to pick up small pieces of scrap metal that would otherwise be landfilled. This tool not only makes it safer for Transfer Station personnel to work on the floor, but it retrieves valuable small metal scraps that can then be recycled. The magnet will be used to pick up staples, nails, bolts, and other loose metal that is a byproduct of cardboard recycling and other waste management activities.
In the past few years, Teton County Solid Waste Department has noted a 75 percent increase in construction and demolition waste that brings with it metal that is often scattered and difficult to collect such as nails and screws. Now all of that scrap metal can be easily collected with the new magnet.
Metal is one of the most valuable resources that can be recycled. In 2017 the county diverted 411 tons of scrap metal from the landfill. This scrap metal is available for people who want to salvage from the scrap pile (by permit on Fridays) and the rest is sold to the highest bidder to recycle. By recycling this metal, we not only saved the $32,548 of taxpayer money that it would to have cost to truck in and dump it at the Circular Butte landfill in Mud Lake nearly 90 miles away, but the county earned an additional $37,000 by selling the scrap metal at $92 per ton (2017 rate) which can be reinvested in waste diversion operations.
TVCR continues to work with the county to find solutions to recycling and diverting more of our waste as we move towards the goal of 37 percent waste diversion by 2020. This is the current national average. In 2017, we managed to divert 31 percent of our county’s waste, a slight drop from the previous year. We are rolling out some new initiatives to help people recycle more of their household waste and hope to construct a salvage store to divert more of the construction and demolition waste in the future.