Throughout the week you diligently placed your used glass, aluminum, steel, plastic and paper items into your recycling bin. No junk mail got tossed in the trash. No wine bottle went astray. And you even remembered to set your bin on the curb ON pick-up day (yes!).
You have the consumer recycling procedure down pat. But does a meticulous recycler like you ever wonder what actually happens to your recycling after it leaves your bin?
Be curious no more. Discover the processes behind recycling (it’s not magic!) and debunk some common recycling myths along the way.
Types of recycling
Single stream: If you dump all of your recyclables into one bin and set it curbside, your community participates in single stream recycling. Although extremely convenient, this method has some controversy due to the potential for contamination because all of the recyclables mix together. That’s why recycling programs ask that you don’t recycle greasy pizza boxes, pulpy juice cartons or other items contaminated by food.
Dual stream: When you separate paper into one bin and containers into another bin and set them curbside, you’re participating in dual stream recycling, the most popular form of recycling in the United States.
Pay-as-you-throw: Another less used recycling method is pay-as-you-throw. This collection method charges consumers a fee per trash bag, and encourages recycling by offering the recycling program free or at a reduced cost.
Drop-off centers: Recycling drop-off centers usually offer expanded recycling options. The downside? You have to haul and unload your recycling yourself.
Once you send your recycling off in a pick-up truck or drop it off at the recycling center it goes to a Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) where handy dandy machines detect and separate the materials. Workers also hand sort items to remove any non-recyclable materials that may have gotten mixed in.
Your recyclables go their separate ways.
From there, the recycled glass makes up about 70 percent of the mix for new glass containers. The manufacturer then heats and molds the glass into its desired shape.
All you could ever want to know about recycling? If not, check out more information on recycling just about anything at earth911.com.
Follow Kirsten on Twitter @kirsten_hudson
image: (UB) Sean R