Sorting Process

The actual sorting of the sample should be organized in the following basic manner:

Each waste category is assigned a general location around the perimeter of the sorting box. In one effective arrangement, paper categories are sorted to one side of the sorting box, plastic categories are sorted to the other side, other organic categories are sorted to one end, and inorganic categories are sorted to the other end. Each sorter is assigned a group of categories. With a typical sorting crew of four, each sorter is assigned the categories on one side or at one end of the box. The sorters place their assigned materials in the appropriate containers and place other materials within reach of the sorters to which they are assigned. Toward the end of sorting each sample, one of the shallow containers is placed in the middle of the sorting box, and all sorters place other paper in this container (see Table 10.4.1). This process can be repeated for food waste.

When only scattered or mixed bits of waste remain, sorting is suspended. The material remaining above the screen in the sorting box, or on the bottom of a box without a screen, is scraped or brushed together and either (1) distributed among the categories represented in it in proportion to their abundance, (2) set aside as a separate category, or (3) set aside to be combined with the fine material from below the screen. ASTM D 5231 specifies the first alternative, but it should not be selected if the waste categories are to be subsampled for laboratory testing. If the sorting box has a screen, the box is upended to allow the fine material from below the screen to fall through the slot at one end of the box. The material that falls out is swept together and shoveled into a con-tainer—preferably a wide, shallow container—for weighing.

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