Facility tours teach the ins and outs of waste-disposal methods

Recycle Utah started the series in the spring

For information and registration about Recycle Utah Facility Tours and Recycle Utah tours, call 435-649-9698 or visit

A bulldozer spreads out the trash collected at the Summit County Landfill. Recycle Utah’s Facility Tour Series will take groups to the landfill on Tuesday, Oct. 10. Other tours include Spoil to Soil, a compositing facility on Monday, Sept. 18, and the Snyderville Basin Water Reclamation District on Tuesday, Oct. 24.
David Jackson/Park Record

How is food and yard waste composted? What happens to water and waste after it spins down the drain? And what happens to trash once the garbage truck picks it up?

These questions and more are answered during Recycle Utah’s new Facility Tour Series that continues throughout September and October, said Executive Director Carolyn Wawra.

“These tours are designed to give people insight of where things go after they drop them off here at the recycling center, or after they are collected from their homes,” she said. “It gives good insight into how the materials are processed.”

The tours run from 10-11:15 a.m., and the next one on the schedule is Monday, Sept. 18, at Spoil to Soil, a local large-scale composting facility, according to Wawra.

We’ll learn about microbes, little microscopic bugs, that clean the water.” Mary Closser, Recycle Utah’s education director

“Spoil to Soil does curbside pick up for food waste, and they also process yard waste, which Recycle Utah doesn’t collect,” she said. “They do aerobic composting, which means there is air involved, and they’ll take branches from your yard, grind them down and move them into windrows, which are like long piles of material.”

The process is a scientific and engineering process that utilizes water and the heat from the sun to break down the materials, said Mary Closser, Recycle Utah’s education director.

“They gauge the windrow temperatures daily, because they want the windrows to get to a certain temperature,” she said. “Once it gets to that temperature, the breakdown process begins.”

Spoil to Soil collects food waste in compostable bags, which break down in the heat, Closser said.

“There is a recipe to compost correctly,” she said. “The yard waste is called ‘browns’ and food waste is called ‘greens.’ And you need twice as much ‘browns’ as ‘greens.'”

The first facility tour next month will be held Tuesday, Oct. 10, at the Summit County Landfill, Warwa said.

“Summit Country residents’ trash ends up here, and I’m a firm believer that if you have trash you should know where it’s going,” she said.

The landfill’s superintendent, Tim Loveday, will show tour participants how his staff manages the trash — including solid, green and hazardous waste — that is collected from residents and businesses and put in cells, which is a single waste-filled section of the larger landfill area, Closser said. 

“The newest cell at the Summit County Landfill is lined with a strong and thick plastic liner, and they monitor it regularly because Rockport Reservoir is close by,” she said. “And that’s where we get our drinking water from.”

Monitoring the landfill helps prevent leaching, which is when water accumulates in the trash and seeps into and contaminates other areas, according to Wawra.

“So there needs to be a leachate drying pond where they evaporate the water,” she said. “You don’t want a soggy landfill.”

A leachate drying pond is a selction of the Summit County Landfill where water, contaminated by the trash, is routed to evaporate so it doesn’t pollute the surrounding areas.
David Jackson/Park Record

Landfills are also like a living, breathing organism, Wawra said. 

“When you put trash in, it’s like building a layer cake,” she said. “They put in a layer of waste and then put a cap on, and then they put another layer of waste and another cap. One of the requirements for the landfill is that it accepts waste during the daytime and then it’s capped at night.”

Loveday will also show the group its recycling area and its hazardous waste dropoff, Closser said.

“We’ll learn about the value and economy of recycling at the recycling area,” she said. “And they can see the hazardous waste area where people can drop off paints, oils and pesticides, so the landfill can manage them.”

The last facility tour of the year will be on Tuesday, Oct. 24, at the Snyderville Basin Water Reclamation District, Wawra said.

“Mike Luers is the general manager, and he will show the group what happens to the water after it goes down the drain,” she said. 

The group will also learn what not to put in the drain or flush down the toilet, Wawra said.

“They are prepared to handle human waste from the toilet, but the community throws a lot of things at them,” she said. “Those ‘flushable wipes’ really aren’t flushable. And you don’t want to flush pharmaceuticals down the toilet. So, they have quite a bit of trash that comes in that is unable to pass through the system.”

When that happens, the staff ends up with a large pile of sludge that they have to transport to the landfill, Wawra said.

In addition to learning about what not to put down the drains, the group will gain an understanding about how the wastewater is cleaned and purified, before it is drained back into East Canyon Creek, Closser said.

“We’ll learn about microbes, little microscopic bugs, that clean the water,” she said.

Recycle Utah started the Facility Tour Series this past spring, and each tour has attracted between 10 to 15 people per group, Closser said. 

“I’ve been looking for ways to expand our adult education programs,” she said. “I, personally, am a visual learner, and I think there are a lot of people who are as well. So I thought this would be a great way to do that.”

Recycle Utah will facilitate carpools for tour registrants, or the registrants can meet at the facilities, Closser said.

“We will give carpool details to people once they register,” she said.

Recycle Utah also offers free tours of the recycling center, Wawra said.

“Any time someone comes in, they can just ask to be shown around,” she said.

Tours can also be set up by calling 435-649-9698.


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