Recycling for 2016

We recycle more than we actually farm around here. If you’ve been on a tour, you’ve heard me drone on about what we do, 7 million pounds of produce diverted from the landfill, two truck loads of pallets per month, 16,000 pounds of cardboard per month. Blah, blah, blah.

These numbers are estimates and averages. We know a box of food for the pigs weighs about 1000 pounds when full. We “know” because I know when the tractor starts tipping from being overloaded. Is it really 1000 pounds? I don’t know. Maybe it’s 900, maybe it’s 1100. Heck maybe it’s 1400 pounds. It’s not like I’ve actually weighed the thing. There is only one item that we weigh regularly and that is the cardboard.

Once per month, I take our big trailer and load 10 bales of cardboard, which should weigh about 16,000 based on the first few times we took cardboard to the recycler. That’s where the 16k per month number comes from. I take the truck and trailer over to the recycler off Poole Road and drive the entire rig across the scales where I’m weighed before and after unloading. After I get done, I receive a weigh ticket, that looks like this.

Cardboard recycling receipt
The latest receipt from recycling

First you see our gross weight as we go across the scales inbound. That’s 40,460 pounds! Yikes that is heavy. This is why I insist on excellent brakes on our equipment. Then we see our Tare weight or empty weight of 18,400. The difference in these two weights is what the 10 bales of cardboard weigh. That weight for this load is 22,060 pounds! So much for 16,000 pounds per month. In fact, the last three tickets have averaged 19,773 pounds! That means that we are recycling, at this run rate, almost a quarter million pounds of cardboard annually! All of this cardboard previously went into the landfill along with the produce so this is true change for the environment.

This 250,000 annual pounds of cardboard is in addition to the 7 million pounds of produce we are recycling annually. And the 6 truck loads of plastic totes annually. And the 1000 yards of chips that we receive from tree companies annually for using in the pig paddocks.┬áThe chips were going to the landfill as well. And the various wood totes, boxes, etc. We don’t even count them.

I guess this might explain why I’m speaking at the FoodCon 2016 Food Waste panel at NC State in November. Looking at everyone else on the schedule, I don’t think I’m qualified. But looking at what we are doing, it looks like I might fit in. We’ll see. Hanging around academics and government types isn’t my usual day. I will have to remember to behave. And wear non-farmer clothes.