For most people, thinking about trash ends as soon as the garbage truck takes it from the curb. However, that is actually only the beginning of the journey your garbage takes. Most trash goes to a waste transfer station, like the one we operate at Horizon. At these transfer stations, we continue processing trash, doing our part to reduce, reuse, and recycle, which helps lessen the burden trash puts on the planet.
Waste transfer stations handle municipal solid waste (MSW). They are not an end-destination, but a stopping point between picking up your trash and its final destination. You may think of a MSW as “the dump” because it is the first destination for garbage trucks or for our dumpsters. However, they are not landfills.
At the waste transfer station, workers sort the garbage. First, trucks are weighed upon arrival. That is because we process garbage by weight. If an individual is bringing waste to the transfer station themselves, they will use a residential scale instead of a commercial scale. Trash is placed in a vehicle, in a building, or even in an outside pit area. We use vehicles and equipment to move trash around the facility. Next, we process the trash, separating it into recyclable material and trash. Once we finish with it, we prepare trash for transport to the next location.
How we sort it depends on local rules and regulations. For examples, most landfills refuse hazardous waste. In addition, not all recycling facilities are available in all areas. Waste transfer facilities miss some recyclable material but exist to try to make sure waste is processed correctly and efficiently.
Some garbage is moved to the material recovery facilities (MRFs). As we explain in our information about MFWs, these facilities separate trash, removing recyclable materials for processing. Other destinations for waste include landfills, incinerators, recycling centers, and hazardous waste facilities. Optimally, the waste transfer station functions as a way to help reduce the amount of garbage that ends up in a landfill.