The long-awaited 51,000-square-foot Salt River Recycling Center facility located at the landfill on the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community is now open for business.
Built and managed by Republic Services, the new center will be able to process eight truckloads an hour, or 40 tons of material, according to Sidiq Young, Republic Services general manager, North Phoenix Business Unit.
The facility replaces the previous recycling plant, which was lost to a fire in 2019.
“When the facility burned down and then [we had] the [COVID-19] pandemic, recycling was something that probably wasn’t top of mind for some communities and some residents,” said Young. “But we maintained our ability to collect [recycling material] and continue to recycle in other facilities. So, we kept that going with our mission of sustainability. Having this facility built here and constructed in a way that we can support the Community is just another addition for us to further that mission of sustainability.”
SRPMIC Council member and Salt River Landfill board member Wi-Bwa Grey spoke at the ribbon-cutting event for the opening of the facility on January 23.
“In our Community, we follow a ‘seven generations’ way of thinking. This means that the decisions that we make today are not just for our immediate future, but rather [they must consider] the impact that they will have seven generations from now,” said Grey.
“Partnering with Republic Services on the new Salt River Recycling Center exemplifies our dedication to providing a better and more sustainable world for future generations. We are excited about being able to provide recycling services to the greater Phoenix area as we collectively strive for a more environmentally conscious and sustainable future.”
The Salt River Recycling Center processes cardboard, paper, plastics, aluminum, tin and glass. There are five different optical sorters in the facility, which gives Republic Services the ability to sort through all that material and spot any trash or residual material coming across the conveyor belt.
Also new to the facility is the use of artificial intelligence (AI) technology, which makes it possible to separate different colored plastics, like laundry detergent bottles and milk jugs. The technology also allows the facility to remove certain trash items from the waste stream so there is a cleaner product on the back end of operations.
“What we’re able to do is service about 1.4 million residents and about 2,000 surrounding businesses to recycle that material,” said Young.
Plastics processed at the facility are sent to a polymer center located in Las Vegas.
“At the polymer center, we take the plastic, we grind it down, we sort it, and we wash it. Think about your water bottle becoming a water bottle again—true bottle-to-bottle circularity there,” said Young.
The Salt River Recycling Facility serves residences and businesses in the Community as well as the surrounding communities of Scottsdale, Fountain Hills, Gilbert, Mesa and Chandler.