A First Look Inside the Southern Nevada Recycling Center

One city's trash is an opportunity for Republic Services to educate.

Guests can climb into to the real “working” cab of a Republic Services truck and have their picture taken. The foliage lining its bumper is made of newspaper, and the light fixtures overhead are made of milk cartons.

Guests can climb into to the real “working” cab of a Republic Services truck and have their picture taken. The foliage lining its bumper is made of newspaper, and the light fixtures overhead are made of milk cartons.

North Las Vegas receives the crown jewel of the recycling world on November 12 when Republic Services opens the country’s largest and most advanced residential center dedicated to the reuse of paper, plastic, glass and metal. The Southern Nevada Recycling Center, West Cheyenne Road, offers the public a chance to understand what happens to these products once they leave the bin via an interactive learning center and tours of the plant. Len Christopher, general manager of Republic Services, shares a first look at the privately funded $35 million facility.

Getting smarter

At 110,000 square feet, this center can process 70 tons of garbage in an hour using the most advanced equipment available, including optical sorters that scan by category, type, color and density, creating a clean end product without any fine organic matter. The building itself also has solar panels so it will be able to generate a portion of its own power.

“Where’s my blue bin?”

“Everyone asks me when they find out I work for a recycling company, ‘When am I getting automated?’—meaning, ‘When will I have one bin for all my recyclables? When do we get rid of the old three-bin system?’ The answer is: We had to build this [facility] to be able to handle the volume. The City of North Las Vegas and the City of Henderson are on the automated system, about 165,000 homes. In Clark County, we have some pilot programs,” Christopher says.

Show and tell

Designed by Fervor Creative, the interactive learning display provides a safe gateway into the recycling center for student and public tours. There will also be access to an observation deck over the machinery for special guests. “It’s going to be extremely cool for people to see what happens with the material as it goes through the system. In the beginning, you see a big pile of recyclables, and by the time you get to the back, we have a warehouse full of finished bails.”

Busting the big myth

Despite what it may look like, your trash and recyclables are not being collected and mixed together. “The truck comes through the neighborhood and collects recyclables, and then the same truck comes later in the day to collect the garbage. So with that truck, they run two separate routes. All the recycling comes here, it is dropped off, then the drivers go back out and fill that truck with garbage and it goes to the transfer station.”

For more photos check below (photos by Krystal Ramirez)


A wall shows various aluminum, paper, glass and plastic quantities and their impact both in Las Vegas and worldwide. For example, this recycling center is capable of handling 2.3 million pounds of aluminum each year.

A wall shows various aluminum, paper, glass and plastic quantities and their impact both in Las Vegas and worldwide. For example, this recycling center is capable of handling 2.3 million pounds of aluminum each year.

Ninety-nine bottles of beer on the wall don't compare to the 24,000 tons of glass that will come through here every year. The learning center’s chandelier is made of beer bottles, which demonstrates what the recycling process is like—from consumption to collection to arrival at the plant and then transportation to manufacturers to be repurposed and reused into a new product.

Ninety-nine bottles of beer on the wall don’t compare to the 24,000 tons of glass that will come through here every year. The learning center’s chandelier is made of beer bottles, which demonstrates what the recycling process is like—from consumption to collection to arrival at the plant and then transportation to manufacturers to be repurposed and reused into a new product.

The entire facility is controlled by tablet. “If I want to speed up that conveyor, slow it down, reverse it, angle the screens … I have it all in my hand,” Christopher says. “It’s such a large system that we can be working on something back here that will affect the front. So communication is key as we’re running.”

The entire facility is controlled by tablet. “If I want to speed up that conveyor, slow it down, reverse it, angle the screens … I have it all in my hand,” Christopher says. “It’s such a large system that we can be working on something back here that will affect the front. So communication is key as we’re running.”

“Fiber is the top commodity: newspaper, cardboard, paper. Bailers reduce the volume. One of those cubes is 2,000 pounds, so if you undid that, it would take up a tremendous amount of room,” Christopher says.

“Fiber is the top commodity: newspaper, cardboard, paper. Bailers reduce the volume. One of those cubes is 2,000 pounds, so if you undid that, it would take up a tremendous amount of room,” Christopher says.

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