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Cub Scouts Learn to Save Planet

“I didn’t know you could get enough energy to power a television for three hours from recycling just one aluminum can,” said Cub Scout Matthew Klocek from East Chicago.

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This is just one of the facts that Klocek and Cub Scout Pack #518 learned during their recycling tour. Approximately 20 scouts from St. Mary’s School in Griffith, IN braved chilly temperatures Saturday morning to learn about recycling. This tour and tours like it are among the many community outreach programs provided by Metro Recycling at 1501 E. Main Street in Griffith, IN.

LaRae Dykstra, Marketing Coordinator for Metro Recycling conducted the tour which began at one of the company’s large scales. Dykstra explained to the scouts how trucks with recycled material will drive on to the scale to be weighed. Once the truck is unloaded, it will be weighed again and the difference will be the weight of the recycled material. Dyktsra asked the scouts how much they thought they weighed and invited them all to climb on the scale. With a little help from some of the parents, the scale topped over 3,100 pounds.

The next stop on the tour was where large steel items are recycled. Dykstra asked the scouts what it means that steel is infinitely recyclable. One scout answered correctly that it means the metal can be reused again and again. Dykstra explained that recycled steel from this facility will be sent off to the Gary Steel Works to be reused.

It was also at this stop where the scouts got to see a grapple in action. A grapple is a large crane with a giant metal claw on the front of its arm. The claw crushes larger recycled items like refrigerator, washers and even cars. Once crushed, these items will be hauled off to a shredder. As its name implies, the shredder takes the recycled items and grinds them into tiny pieces. These pieces will then pass under a giant magnet and anything that is steel will stick to the magnet. This is just one of the ways recycled materials are separated.

Next on the tour was where smaller items such as brass, copper and aluminum cans are recycled. Dykstra explained that if a can is not recycled and ends up in a landfill, it will stay there for roughly 200 to 500 years. Beyond helping the environment, Cub Scout Bryce Graham saw other reasons to recycle aluminum cans.

“I made $60 recycling pop cans,” Graham said.

The scouts gathered around a cube of aluminum about a foot taller than them. Dykstra called this cube a skid and said it would be shipped off once it contains about 96,000 aluminum cans. Next to the skid is a machine where a worker dropped bags of cans into a bin. The cans moved from the bin along a conveyor belt where they were crushed into a block of aluminum and added to the skid.

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The final stop on the tour was where paper is recycled. Dykstra asked the scouts, “How many trees will each person use paper products from in a year?”

The answer is seven. Although not as durable as steel or aluminum that can be recycled an endless number of times, paper products can still be recycled seven times before their fibers start to break down.

The tour was met with rave reviews from the scouts.

“I loved when the grapple smashed the items,” Cub Scout Ian Ince said.

Matthew Klocek from East Chicago agreed that was his favorite part as well and added, “The tour made me think more about what else I can do to recycle at home. I am going to talk to my brother and friends about it.”

In the end, that is what La Rae Dykstra hopes for most of all with these tours.

“The key is education,” Dykstra said. “The effects of not recycling are truly mind boggling. I want kids to leave these tours thinking about ways they can start a recycling program in their homes or schools.”

To learn more about recycling or to take your own tour of the Metro Recycling facility in Griffith, you may call their office at (219) 922-1830. You may also find recycling tips on their Facebook page or by visiting their website at www.wheredoirecycle.com

Metro Recycling
1501 East Main St
Griffith, IN 46319
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