Sun Valley high-tech plant looks to separate treasures from trash

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Saturday, April 9, 2016
Sun Valley high-tech plant looks to separate treasures from trash
A cutting-edge recycling facility in Sun Valley aims to divert trash away from landfills.

SUN VALLEY, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- The phrase "One man's trash is another man's treasure" perhaps applies nowhere more so than at a massive high-tech recycling facility in the northern San Fernando Valley.

The Athens Services materials recovery facility in Sun Valley is a first of its kind in Los Angeles - on the cutting edge for how effectively it separates reusable materials from trash and diverts waste from landfills.

The facility, which opened in October 2014, uses magnets to pull out metals, optical sorting machines that can recognize different types of materials, and human sorters whose eyes spot plenty of items that weren't meant for the trash pile.

Workers at the plant have found just about everything you could imagine - hand grenades, boa constrictors, even a military medal that its owner though he had lost forever.

"It was accidentally thrown away and he just thought he had completely lost it," said Juan Ornelas, a facility supervisor. "It just so happened that I found that box which pertained to him and he was very excited, very happy to get it back."

The goal is to save, reuse and get as close to zero waste as possible.

"What we do every morning is we wake up and try to find out how not to take things to a landill," said Gary Clifford, Athens Services executive vice president.