Recycling Facility in Grand Rapids shut down due to baler malfunction

UPDATE: The Kent County’s Recycling & Education Center is now open and processing recycables as of 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 22.


Kent County’s Recycling & Education Center experienced a mechanical malfunction in the baler that caused the facility to shut down. During this time the Recycling Center is unable to accept recyclables placed at the curb for pickup by waste haulers.


“Despite having preventative maintenance programs and dedicated maintenance staff, there are always going to be things that happen to the equipment that are outside of our control. Sorting equipment in these state-of-the-art processing facilities is dependent on all pieces working together,” said Darwin Baas, Director of Kent County’s Department of Public Works, an enterprise fund of Kent County that owns and operates the facility. “The baler is a critical piece of equipment in our system and we are unable to run for any length of time without it.” Residents and businesses are encouraged to hold off placing recycling carts out for service for the next couple of days in anticipation of the facility being able to process recyclables again at the end of the week.


Currently between 1,000 and 1,250 tons of material is awaiting processing on the ‘tipping floor’, where waste haulers dump recyclables that will be processed once the plant is back up and running. Kent County is working closely with two different companies to assess the baler repairs and establish a timeframe.


Haulers that normally deliver recyclables to the Kent County Recycling & Education Center are being redirected to Kent County’s Waste to Energy Facility, about a mile away, as of 2 p.m. today.


“Sending recyclables to the Waste to Energy Facility is not ideal. Sending recyclables to Waste to Energy is a much better alternative than landfilling. We can extract the energy, generate electricity and feed that back into the grid for productive use,” noted Baas.


While the Recycling Center is down the service fee for haulers tipping recyclables will be waived.


Kent County DPW will post updates on the progress of the electrical repairs on its recycling website,