Look Inside NYC’s Strangely Beautiful Glass and Plastic Recycling Facility

October 27, 2015

Each day, the 11-acre Sims Municipal Recycling facility unloads up to 450 tons of waste on a city-owned pier (on what used to be an NYPD impoundment lot) in the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal. Though this seems like a dirty job, the process of recycling all this glass and plastic turns out to be strangely beautiful. CityLab recently explored the facility’s photogenic quality through Instagram photos and talked to its manager to learn that recycling in NYC is not an urban myth like some people believe. In fact, since 2013, around 7,000 guests have toured the Sims facility.

A photo posted by Big Reuse (@bigreuse) on Jun 25, 2015 at 1:29pm PDT

A photo posted by NYC Recycles (@nycrecycles) on Jun 25, 2015 at 1:05pm PDT

A photo posted by NYC Recycles (@nycrecycles) on Jun 25, 2015 at 12:41pm PDT

Facility manager Tom Outerbridge told CityLab that the plant was raised four feet as a measure against storm surges. To do this, “crushed glass and shattered rock from the construction of the 2nd Avenue subway were aggregated into a coarse building material.” Outerbridge noted, “They’re low-cost materials that are generated locally.” Additionally, polished bottle pieces that look like sea glass stand in for wood chips or gravel in the courtyard.

A photo posted by Andy Albright (@a_albright8) on Aug 27, 2015 at 1:58pm PDT

A photo posted by NYC Recycles (@nycrecycles) on Jun 26, 2015 at 12:38pm PDT

A photo posted by City of New York (@nycgov) on Aug 16, 2015 at 8:41am PDT

The photos above show the before and after of recycling. First, the mountains of waste are moved around by backhoes and trucks. Then, the plastic is compacted into what looks like “building blocks” or “hay bales,” and they’re then carried away on barges or rail cars.

[Via CityLab]


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