GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — For the foreseeable future, all recycling material collected by Kent County will need to be diverted to its trash incinerator instead of being recycled.
The Kent County Recycling and Education Center on Wealthy Street is closed until further notice after a sidewall collapsed on Monday. According to the Department of Public Works, bales of cardboard shifted and pushed through the wall, damaging the exterior wall and a roof support beam.
“Typically that piece of machinery has some safeguards on it that when it hits some resistance, it will kick off,” Steve Faber with the DPW said. “But for whatever reason, it didn’t this time. And so it built up to the point that it exerted enough pressure on that exterior wall that it damaged the exterior of the building.”
He said the damage was “extensive,” including some to the roof and “other components.”
Nobody was hurt and the department is working with structural engineers to determine the cause of the issue and create a repair plan. The facility was expected to reopen Friday.
“…Then we’ll complete the long list of repairs that need to be done permanently over the next several months,” Faber said.
The Recycling and Education Center is the “primary materials recovery facility for residential recyclables generated throughout West Michigan.” For now, all of that material will be diverted to the County’s “Waste-to-Energy facility” which uses an incinerator and the resulting heat as a power generator. The leftover ash is placed in a landfill.
“If we don’t have capacity to stockpile recycling at our facility, then we do have to send it to our waste energy facility across the river so that it can be incinerated,” Faber said. “That still is a lesser solution, but it’s still not being landfilled so that’s our temporary go-to when these shutdowns happen.”