Newspaper Page Text
WHERE GARBAGE IS TURNED INTO GOLD Selected EVERY time a New Yorker empties the ashes in his furnace, he is helping to build an island which will some day be worth a mil lion dollars as real estate, and every time a New York housewife throws a bacon rind or a few potato parings into the garbage pail, she is helping to make somebody wealthy. “Garbage” in New York means practically everything that is thrown away, although it has ceased to have any value for its original possessor, still has some worth when it goes through the intricate processes of turning garbage into gold. When one throws bits of refuse into the waste paper basket or the garbage pail, it is with the feeling that that is the end of it. You have worn it or used it until it is worthless, and so it goes to oblivion. But so complicated and minute are the steps by which a great city disposes of its refuse that what appears as the final move toward nothingness to you is but the first step in a fascinating jour ney. Your last summer’s oxfords may still be doing duty in some altered form, and that old bedspring which you threw away, may have been rescued from its surroundings by the contractor who removes it, and who makes an immense profit just by sort ing and redisposing of all the junk which comes his way. Piled up in high, unsightly piles, are all the strange conglomerate arti cles which are thrown away in a city. Men employed by the contractors go over the wagonloads as they are re ceived, and make a rough attempt at classifying the debris. This is the first step in turning the refuse into a mar ketable product. Old metals, such as brass and iroii, are variously sorted, and ultimately get back again into the channels of manufacture. An island has arisen out of noth ingness in the East River, built up slowly out of the water by a gradual accumulation of ashes. This is Ricker’s Island, which you could not have discovered at high tide a few short years ago, but which was visible as a flat, muddy, mosquito-infested bit of swamp in low tide. Gradually under the city’s direc tion, this island, opposite Ninetieth street, has been formed by scow-load after scow-load of ashes .and refuse. Today it is an island of considerable size, and growing constantly, as more ashes are added to the shallow spot in the river. In the course of time, it is predicted that the land of this island will be worth a million dollars, in view of the scarcity of land close to Manhattan Island. The city’s im mense garbage disposal plant has been erected on Ricker’s Island, and here the elaborate processes for “reducing” the garbage are carried on. To this plant are brought all the waste, and all the garbage, and here most of it is rendered into market able form. What doesn’t lend itself to being made over into something else is merely made to increase the size of the island. Every day of the week you may see the scows “docking” at this artificial island, and adding to the raw product which is to be turned from garbage into gold. The waste material receives a second and thorough sorting when it reaches Ricker’s Island, and such ad ditional junk as the contractor can use is placed in the empty scows and hauled back. This second sorting turns up a great deahof material, some of it of surprising character. The contrac tor’s assistants always know just what purpose will be served by all the stuff, however, and it is collected into var ious piles to await the emptying of the scows. However, some is sorted out of the wagons on Manhattan to save the extra hauling of it. But nothing is overlooked in the end, and every pos sible conversion of the discarded ma terial is taken care of. The cable road on the island takes care of the ashes, and transports them to whatever spot is being filled in at the time. By gradually increasing the range of the “dump,” the size of the island, and its height above the river surface are being increased. Immense steam shovels are used to load and unload the cars on the cable road, and every device of modern in vention to facilitate the movement of the ashes is to be found there. Cable cars also run from the dock to the disposal plant, carrying the refuse which is to undergo the refin ing processes there. In case the scows are run up" close to the plant, another method of getting the materials from the barges into the plant is used. Men shovel the refuse onto a conveyor, and it is thus carried into the plant by machinery. This conveying runway leads to the “Digester” shed. Sometimes there are scores of men at work, shoveling material upon the conveyor, so that you can imagine the capacity of the plant, and particularly of the “Di gester” These machines are perhaps the most important factor in garbage reduction. They are im mense tanks or boilers, placed in a horizontal position, and each with a tremendous “appetite” for raw gar bage, just as it is dumped from the barges. The garbage is placed in them, and cooked for a considerable period of time. This cooking is the big step in garbage reduction, and is the first process in securing the greases and fertilizers which are the main pro ducts of garbage reduction. When the garbage is thoroughly steamed, or “cooked,” the liquid part of it which has been drawn from the bulk by the heat is drawn off by means of tilting the great machines and allowing the heated grease to flow out. OUR MOTTO—“IT IS NEVER TOO LATE TO MEND” Stillwater, Minnesota, Thursday, July 28, 1921. The grease is conveyed to another type of round tank, and here the pro cess of refining the raw grease is con tinued. The fluid is entirely re cooked, and comes through the pro cess in different form. The heat has refined it to a considerable degree. Outside the “Digester,” huge vats have been built, into which the grease, now in the form of a rather heavy and sticky lubricant, is allowed to run.. Standing stagnant in these vats, the solid matter which still remains in it slowly settles to the bottom, and the liquid is considerably clarified. It is now of about the consistency of a heavy lubricating oil, and has a con siderable market value. This is the condition in which the major portion of the refuse and scraps from your table ultimately find them selves, and this is the aim of the many complicated processes through which you have followed the potato peelings and the rind of bacon. As for the solid portions of the refuse which still remain, they have their purpose to fulfill as well. They might appear to be merely the left overs, but that does not imply that they are valueless. These solids are conveyed to a hy draulic press, and there subjected to immense pressure. They come out in the form of solid cakes, and in the process of making them, still more oil is squeezed from them. These cakes are excellent fertilizer, and thus find their way back into the soil. In this manner, man helps na ture in her own processes, for it is nature’s way for the decayed and use less vegetation to return to the soil and enrich it. Thus you see how garbage is turned into gold, and how refuse may be made into an island. Menace to Sugar Cane The chief menace to sugar cane in the West Indies is the froghopper (Thomaspis sacchaarina), an insect that sucks the sap from the roots and leaves of the sugar cane and that owes its name to its ability to take pro digious leaps. In recent years the in sects have multiplied enormously, es pecially in Trinidad, where their nat ural enemies, frogs, toads and lizards, have been nearly exterminated by the mongoose, originally brought from India to kill the rats and snakes. Wherever the mongooses were plenti ful the lizards disappeared and the froghoppers flourished. Five years ago a leading planter, after exter minating as many mongooses as pos sible, placed thousands of ground liz ards in his cane fields, with the result that the froghoppers have almost dis appeared, and the sugar yield is great ly increased and improved. Other large sugar cane growers have since started a lizard farm, where the liz ards are brought in hundreds and en couraged to thrive and multiply for the sole object of combating the frog hopper pest. Thousands of bats, too, are kept for the same work.— Ex. Vol. XXXIV: No. 52 RISKY BUSINESS OF SALVAG ING STEEL IN FRANCE Selected FRANCE has a big and adven turous bit of work to do in sal vaging the vast quantities of iron and steel sown in her soil by cannon, or planted as stakes and fences of wire. A large proportion of the whole world’s output for over four years was spattered over the face of that country between August 1914 and November 1918. A good share of this salvage work has been performed by the troops of the Allied armies, but also a large amount of it has been done by the German prisoners of war, says a scientific journal. At practically all the railroad-sta tions in the neighborhood of Etain and Bar-le-Duc train-loads can be seen of the crooked, rusted barbed wire entanglement-rods, stacked up like cord-wood, waiting for shipment. There are small mountains of mis cellaneous scrap-iron, and piles of heavy corrugated iron sheets are a characteristic sight in salvage dumps and railroad-yards throughout the bat tle region. In the centre and toward the-eastern end of the line this work has been carried nearer to completion than at the northwestern end. In the northwest, along the British front, the salvage work has proceeded a bit more slowly, perhaps, but cer tainly not less thoroughly. In the winter and spring just past German prisoners of war were going over the shell-shot battlefields which had been a part of the British front, tearing down the corrugated iron shelters, picking up uuds’ or u.._x ploded shells, clearing the thickets of barbed wire and chevaux de frise, storing and piling up all the salvaged metal dumps, and loading it on the freight-cars and canal or river barges. In the salvage dumps are to be seen wrecks of cannons, tanks of all de scriptions, great piles of metal hel mets, rifles, bayonets, knives, shells, and shell-cases, machine guns, and, in fact, all the-metal debris of warfare, but the one lasting impression made on most observers is that of acres of corrugated iron sheets, and barbed wire, and the twisted rods around which the barbed-wire entanglements had been made. In a good many areas the artillery-fire had been so intense that the soil has been ruined for agri cultural purposes. In such cases, the salvaging is very dangerous, implying the handling of dangerous explosive agents, to recover the metal junk. In the agricultural districts, in cases where the shelling was compar atively light, and the land had been dug up to make trenches, the salvage work is closely tied up with that of agricultural reconstruction. The ordinary varieties of ferns are in great use in China and Japan as articles of food.— Ex.