Hello there – You see me on the streets in your neighborhood all the time – I’m a garbage truck, although some folks like to call me a refuse truck or recycling truck. You know, people sure make a lot of waste – each person in America makes more than four pounds of garbage every day – that’s over fourteen-hundred pounds a year – wow! My job is to collect that waste and try to recycle as much as I can back into use. Whatever is left has to be safely disposed of. How do I work? Here – let’s take a look… While there’s different kinds of garbage trucks – like front-loaders and rear-loaders, I’m a side-loader, so we’ll look at how I’m put together. One thing’s for sure – we’re all big, strong, and tough. Behind the cab, where the driver sits – is the hopper, where the trash is tossed in. A large mechanical arm grabs the bin, pulls it up and tips it so the trash falls into the hopper. Below that is a packing blade that pushes and makes the garbage smaller in size. The blade moves the trash toward the back of the truck, where it curves around and fills up the holding area. When the truck is all filled up, an ejection blade pushes the compacted trash out of the back of the truck at the dump and it’s ready to start all over again. And what happens to all that trash? Well, paper and some other materials are safely burned – often to produce steam that runs turbines to make electricity that people can use. Food, wood, and other trash that is what they call “organic,” are taken to compost centers, where they break down and decompose into fertilizer. Other trash, like metals, plastics, and glass, is sent to recycling centers, where it’s cleaned and processed into metal, plastic, and glass that can be used again. Unfortunately, more than half of the garbage that’s created cannot be burned, composted, or recycled – so it has to be taken to a landfill. A landfill is a large area where trash can be safely buried and kept so that it doesn’t contaminate our drinking water and other natural resources. Of course, there’s only so much land in our world, so recycling and composting has to go up, and use of landfills has to go down – way down. So the next time you see me, the garbage truck – be sure to wave and say “Hi,” because we’re all working together to make our world a better place to live and play – Take care and “Ta-ta!” Captions by