Where does all our garbage go? Part 2

The trash we throw out in WeHo doesn’t simply end up in a landfill.

The City of West Hollywood contracts Athens Services to take our trash and separate virtually everything that can be recycled. 

This task may seem cumbersome and nearly impossible, but Athens has developed a highly industrialized process and several specialized facilities to sort and re-package what we consider garbage so that it can be re-used, re-sold or disposed of in ways that reduce harm to the environment — at 65 tons per hour.

After arriving at Athens’ facility in Pacoima, plastic bags are removed automatically by a shredding machine. The unbagged trash is then pre-sorted manually by workers to remove large materials and contaminants.

The first round of automatic filtering removes re-usable cardboard. Fast rotating turbines keep the lighter cardboard afloat while heavier debris falls onto a conveyor belt below.


Streams of air are then used to sort materials by density. Paper, plastic bags, containers and fine debris are separated.


Paper is sorted optically. A camera identifies clean paper, and air jets thrust the pieces away from dirty paper, which falls onto a conveyor belt below.

After magnets remove metal items from the conveyor belt, optical sorters separate plastics by type. Streams of air are again utilized to keep certain types of plastic onto the line while sending other types elsewhere.

Finally, the correctly sorted products are condensed into bails. Only the non-recoverable items are taken to landfills.

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JF1
JF1
10 months ago

I wish they would list all items that they want to see in recycle bins and what they don’t want to see. I think a lot of people throw every type of plastic and every type of paper into the recycle bins and only certain plastics and certain paper and cardboard are appropriate.

Last edited 10 months ago by JF1
Joshua88
Joshua88
10 months ago
Reply to  JF1
JF1
JF1
10 months ago
Reply to  Joshua88

Thanks for sharing this.

ThinkGreen
ThinkGreen
10 months ago

This is one of my favorite articles in wehoville ever.

Curtis
Curtis
10 months ago

So why separate it if the machines do all of that?

Malibu Boy
Malibu Boy
9 months ago
Reply to  Curtis

I don’t . It’s pointless mean as long as I’m paying someone else to do it why should I do it.

Stephen
Stephen
10 months ago

This is a great article. Love finding out these untold yet vital truths about how our cities work.

Richie
Richie
10 months ago

For my dime I will never look at the Athens truck the same way!

Krispy Kreme
Krispy Kreme
10 months ago

This is quite fascinating. Thank you WEHOville !

Tom
Tom
10 months ago

Did I miss part 1?

Curtis
Curtis
10 months ago
Reply to  Tom

Yes you can search for it on this site

Tom
Tom
10 months ago
Reply to  Curtis

Oh, that was it. Usually “blah, blah, blah, Part 2” is a continuation of “blah, blah, blah, Part 1.”

Last edited 10 months ago by Tom
Geri Berger
Geri Berger
10 months ago

A an avid ‘try to do my best’ recycler, I am so astounded by this well thought out, detailed technology. I know and work around people who live by the adage’ out of sight out of mind’. Hopeful this operation is sought after everywhere giving this abused planet a chance to recover. Thank you team.

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