Understanding Your Community Recycling Program

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How Your Waste Stream Is Sorted After It Leaves Your Business And Heads To The Recycling Plant

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Most business owners do not give it much thought. After all of your recycling is thrown out and picked up by a reputable waste stream management company, you hardly think about what happens to it next. Yet, if you are the particularly curious sort who likes to know all kinds of things, you may find the whole recycling and waste stream sorting process rather interesting. 

From Your Dumpster to the Recycling Plant

Unless your waste management company asks that you intentionally separate recyclables, all of your business's recyclables go in the same dumpster. On your chosen collection day, the truck pulls up, lifts your dumpster overhead, and pours the contents into the hopper-like part of the truck. The truck continues onward, picking up several more loads of recycling from other businesses until the truck's "hopper" is full. Then the truck drives to the recycling plant to unload.

Sorting in the Plant

After the truck backs up to the plant's depository window, it lifts (via hydraulics) the entire back of the truck into a position that dumps all of the recyclables it has collected. Someone on standby at the plant checks the truck to make sure everything has been successfully emptied. The truck then drives off to collect more, and the sorting inside the plant begins. 

Everything rolls down a conveyor belt. Many employees are standing along the conveyor belt, plucking out items that cannot be processed in this plant and/or have to be processed elsewhere. They also sort out all of the different recyclables so that glass, plastic, cardboard, etc., all go onto their own conveyor belt to go to their own part of the recycling plant. Dozens of workers stand and do this job all day every day while collections trucks are making rounds and collecting the recyclables to bring to the plant. 

Melting and Liquidating

Your single waste stream of recyclables has now been turned into several separated streams, and each stream goes somewhere else. The plastics go to be melted down, the glass will be liquidated and turned into other glass products, and the cardboard and paper are turned back into a pulpy mush which is then bleached and/or re-dyed before turning it into new paper and new cardboard again. Sometimes, all of these processes may be completed in the same recycling plant, if the plant is big enough to handle it and has licensure to do so. The rest of the time, especially with smaller recycling plants, the separated recyclables are loaded up and shipped elsewhere to be melted and liquidated.

For more information, contact a company like H & H Metals Co.