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Hey guys, I have a couple pieces of old scrap FasTrack that's ready for retirement. Can we recycle it in our curbside recycling or do I need to take it to like a county drop off site. I know every municipality is a little different but I wasn't sure since it's just plastic and metal. Thanks for any tips if you've successfully recycled yours!

--Nick N.

Raleigh, NC

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"Every time a piece of FasTrack is thrown out, an engineer blows his whistle- toot toot"!

With any luck, at best it makes it into a plastic pallet shipping our trains across the ocean.

That said, unless it's disassembled with the metal rails removed, that is just an accident waiting to happen when it hits a plastic shredder. Now I realize the industrial shredder / hammer mill might be able to handle it and it's not like the metal is that strong, but I just don't know what your municipality has for a machine. The track bed is an ABS blend but not marked hat I know of for what exact blend.

And sorry to go doom and gloom, but plastic recycling is somewhat of a myth. I'm not saying it never happens, but at least our local municipality just called it out, stopped lying to the public and just axed the program because it wasn't actually going anywhere but the landfill. I know hat sounds terrible and it is, but at least the lying and telling us it was being recycled and then clearly wasn't stopped.

Again, sorry, the realization that due to some specifics of what FasTrack is and how it's constructed, it might end up in a landfill VS the work required for mechanical separation of the metal and plastic components.

I just read this

Again, my thought is, when that get to the sort process, and they see metal rails embedded in plastic, they don't want to jam the industrial shredder and then be cleaning those balled up metal rails wrapped around inside the shredder it sadly ends up in the landfill.

If you want to improve the chances, you could yourself remove the rails before putting into the system.

I'm not saying this is the end all be all information, but Matt does produce some fair and balanced info IMO.

only 2 of those resins are recycled at the industrial level

And FasTrack falls into category 7 being an ABS blend, thus equalling


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Barry's video link pretty much covers the ground truth on recycling.  I live in a town that single-streams with curbside pickup, and my surrounding county requires sorting (You have to drive your recycling to a bin location).  I talked with the county guy about the difference.  He thought single stream was a bad choice.  The buyers of recycle material want minimal contamination or the material goes to the landfill (if your recycle progam demands sorting, pay attention to what bin you toss stuff into).  PET/HDPE bottles, aluminum cans, glass, newspaper, and corrugated cardboard are in demand as long as the "purity" is high.

The single stream gets trucked to the city where sorting takes place to get the easily identifiable and extract-able stuff out of the stream  before it goes to the incinerator (which is upwind from my area) or landfill.  The town promotes their single stream program as being the least expensive recycling service available.

I recently did cleanup duty after an event where we had clearly marked containers for sorting cans, bottles, and trash.  There was so much mixing of cans and bottles that I couldn't take the bags to the county bins and used the town's single stream collection.  Don't get me started on throwing food waste into recycling containers (talk about contamination!) - several bags of recycleables went directly to the landfill.

So, no, your discarded train items are not recycleable.  Some future civilization will do an archaeological dig in our landfill mounds and wonder about the ancients and their toys.

Even if you strip the metal from the plastic roadbed, it may or may not be recyclable depending on your municipal or regional recycling systems. The New England town I used to live in would take any and all types of metals, including scrap, nails, screws, bottle caps -- you name it. It would be trucked away and the ferrous/non-ferrous bits would get sorted out in bulk, and the rest would get sent to another stream for further processing. Where I live now in the Midwest, the official county recycling initiative will only accept marked and commonly-known containers for recycling -- basically just cans and tins. Scrap metal and small bits aren't accepted. I don't have municipal trash pickup where I live, so I have to use a pickup service by default. The one I use processes everything they pick up for recycling, at least, so what I can't send to the county (basically rinsed food containers and cardboard/paper) is sent given a once-over by the trash service, which will at least get the metal out for recycling if nothing else.

The town in New England used to require plastic to be sorted by labeling and they'd try to sell it off to recyclers, but at some point the bottom fell out of that and they just sent it along with the general trash to the incinerator on the other end of town. At least the incinerator provided supplementary power generation from trash and it cut back on the volume going to landfills. Where I live now, everything not easily recyclable (and probably quite a bit that may be) is getting stuffed in landfills. Not the best of situations.

So basically where FasTrack is concerned, you might be able to separate the metal and get it into the recycling stream, but the plastic is either getting incinerated (and hopefully getting converted into some electrons to run some trains...) or it's going into a landfill.

I doubt it is recyclable, in most places they only allow a couple of types for recycling, and usually ABS isn't one of them. With metals it is weird, they generally tell us to put only things like cans and bottles and paper in (it is single stream where I am), they discourage small metal items, they say it screws up the machines. So you might be better off simply throwing it out.

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