January 8th, 2013
Have you ever gone to your local recycling center and see what they do with your old bottles and cans and cardboard boxes?
Some places have single-stream recycling where you put all items into one big bin. Other places still request that you sort into separate bins.
But what happens when it leaves the curb?
Newspapers, magazines, catalogs, phone books, and mixed paper are separated from corrugated cardboard.
Some newspapers, magazines, catalogs, and phone books are shipped to paper mills in the U.S., Canada, and the Far East, and used to make new newsprint and gray cardboard.
Some corrugated cardboard is sent to factories in the U.S. and Mexico where it is made into paperboard, brown paper grocery bags, and new cardboard.
Bottles, cans, beverage cartons, and aluminum foil are separated into piles of steel, glass, aluminum, beverage cartons, and plastic.
Steel is sold to scrap metal dealers and steel mills to make a variety of new steel products.
Milk and juice containers are de-polycoated and the paper remaining is used to make new products.
Glass is separated by color-clear, brown, and green-crushed into cullet (small pieces ready for melting), and sold to manufacturers of new glass bottles and jars.
Aluminum cans are baled and returned to can manufacturers where they are melted down, made into new cans, and back on grocery shelves within six weeks.
Aluminum foil is also baled and returned to manufacturers where it is processed into new aluminum.
Plastic is sorted by type and sent to manufacturers who make products such as artificial lumber and stuffing for ski jackets.
Countries such as China are prepared to pay high prices for recyclables such as waste plastic; mainly because they do not have readily available sources of virgin materials (no indigenous forests or oil supplies) and they have a large manufacturing industry that requires these products.
Here are some videos on how things get recycled in Clark County, Washington.
And here’s some videos on Separation and then Recycling.
And from TLC channel: What really happens at a recycling plant.
And our prior blog post on Six Unobvious Reasons to Recycle