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Sep 04

06/01/18 - Where Does Recycled Material Go?

Posted on September 4, 2020 at 5:01 PM by Jacob Smith

Black garden hose stored on a spoolYou recycle, and ReWorks thanks you! But do you ever get confused? Ever have a debate with your family about what should go into your recycle cart?

Just when you think you have recycling figured out, a new gadget comes wrapped in some type of material that you've never seen before. When you ask around about what to do with it, you hear conflicting messages from well-intentioned friends and family members.

How Recycling Works

First, let's look into how recycling works.

Material Recovery Facility (MRF)

After finishing up gathering all the recyclables from your neighborhood, the recycling truck goes to a MRF. This is where all the collected materials are sorted. The facility has magnets, conveyor belts, cameras, and people to help separate the different materials. Once the recyclables are sorted, the materials are baled and sold.

Recycling is dynamic and changes for a variety of reasons. One reason is that recyclables are commodities; prices and interested buyers for recyclables change over time.

Another aspect is the ability of the equipment in the MRF to identify a product and properly recover it. In other words, when a new product gets to the MRF, does the existing equipment (conveyor belts, cameras, etc.) recognize it and sort it correctly?

Transforming Recycling Messages
Because of changes such as these, recycling messages also need to transform. ReWorks' goal is to share updates to help keep our recycling carts filled with the correct material.

Tanglers, a Constant

Now you may ask, is there anything that is a constant in our changing recycling realm? Yes, there is! A constant material that hinders the operation of a MRF is something called a tangler. Common tanglers are:

  • Christmas tree lights
  • Clothes
  • Electrical cords
  • Garden hoses
  • Plastic bags

These items get caught in the recycling machinery and cause problems, so one thing you can always keep in mind: no tanglers in your curbside recycling cart.