City, county and state officials heralded the official opening Wednesday of a $12 million recycling plant designed to keep up to 4 million pounds of recyclables a year out of Bena Landfill.
The largely automated 50,000-square-foot facility, on South Mount Vernon Avenue in southeast Bakersfield, actually switched on in February.
It's a joint venture by five trash haulers -- Price Disposal, Varner & Son Inc./Lamont Sanitation, Howard's Garbage, Superior Sanitation, and Varner Brothers Inc. -- working together as Metropolitan Recycling LLC.
The separator will isolate up to 20 tons of commercial and residential recyclables an hour -- much collected from blue recyclable carts in metropolitan Bakersfield, from single-family homes on city and county land.
As often as every 2 1/2 minutes, a series of remorseless green-and-yellow machinery will sift, crush, shatter and bind six different types of recyclables into bales weighing between 600 and 1,800 pounds.
That's four times as many recyclables as could previously be sorted -- an increase aimed at diverting 75 percent of all recyclables from landfills by 2020.
In a related milestone, the city of Bakersfield will wrap its 18-month roll-out of blue carts for residential recyclables on Tuesday.
Bakersfield Solid Waste Superintendent Sal Moretti said the plant opening is expected to help sort the growing pile of recyclables generated by the city's still-new residential recycling program, and will not cost anyone a job.
In a press release, Metropolitan Recycling said the facility is expected to generate jobs, although the exact number was unclear.