Modern-Day Waste Pickers

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Science  10 Aug 2012:
Vol. 337, Issue 6095, pp. 670
DOI: 10.1126/science.337.6095.670

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Montgomery County, Maryland's $2.6 million recycling processing system features some 30 segments of conveyor belt, up to 2 meters wide and totaling nearly 800 meters in length. The belts connect dozens of pieces of special-purpose equipment, from a shaker table that removes broken glass to an eddy current that separates aluminum cans in a process that calls to mind spawning salmon leaping upstream. Twenty-seven sorters are stationed along its entire length, serving as a nearly invisible but essential human element in the process.