December 2023 Update
The baler facility will allow us to further reduce the inefficient mixed recycling stream by removing aluminum, cardboard, mixed paper and plastics. These materials, when co-mingled, have little value. But when they are separated and compacted into clean uncontaminated bales, they have value.
When we bale, we also dramatically increase the percentage of material that is actually recycled, and significantly decrease our carbon footprint by reducing the number of trucks hauling material back to the mainland.
November 2023 Update
Beams are erected; concrete is being poured. It’s pretty exciting that we are finally constructing the Baler building. Even more exciting, we are in the final design stages of a 93,000 kWh solar array! This array, one of the biggest on the island, will provide us almost double our annual power needs, with the rest feeding back into the OPALCO grid. Be on the lookout for our annual fundraising letter, which will politely ask that you consider supporting this effort with your end-of-year giving. Help The Exchange and Orcas Island get closer to carbon neutral!
October 2023 Update
Island Excavation broke ground on our new Baler Facility in early September and the site prep is now completed! They are providing all the site prep and stormwater work on the project. We recently funded a geotechnical study of our crushed glass-sand and it passed all kinds of Washington State tests for use in construction projects (let us know if you are interested in the study) so it’s been very exciting to see our crushed glass being used in the project.
Our new baler building starts going up mid-October and the baler machinery is expected to arrive at the end of the year. We expect to be baling recyclables in Q1 2024 and can’t wait to start crushing stuff into cubes!