Refuse and Recycling Blog

Is What I'm Recycling Actually Getting Recycled?

Posted on Mon, Aug 06, 2012 @ 09:00 AM

Is What I'm Recycling Actually Getting Recycled?

Like any environmentally conscious person, you dutifully separate your papers and your plastics, and leave your recycling at the curb for garbage pickup every week, and you just assume that the environmental waste makes its way to the recycling facility, where everything is green, birds are singing, and the wheels of the recycling machine spin diligently, making your newspaper into a piece of writing paper, destined for the classroom.

But have you ever asked yourself "Is what I'm recycling actually being recycled?" It's a fair question, and to understand if your recycling is being processed, you need to understand the process itself. The most common recycling materials are paper, glass, and aluminum, and this is how they are recycled:

Paper Recycling 

The recycling company that's contracted for trash removal usually has a plant located somewhere close to the city. All of your recyclable paper is combined in large pins with other paper. At the plant the papers is separated according to the grade of paper, and the type, like newspaper and paper for bills.

The paper is washed to remove any glue or film, and anything that's stuck to it like staples and ink. It's then mixed into a slurry of water and paper. From there, the paper is combined with other materials and then large rolls of specific paper types are created, newspaper for instance. After that, it is shipped to companies who sell the paper back to the public.

Glass Recycling

Similar to paper, the glass is sorted into different types, and then washed. After washing, the glass is shattered, and then malted in furnaces. The glass then goes into molds to create new jars and bottles, or for construction materials. After that, the recycled glass goes back into the public for use, and because glass doesn't degrade, it can be used and recycled continuously.

Aluminum Recycling

The first recycling treatment for aluminum is the same as glass, where it's separated, cleaned, and then melted. The difference is the output. Aluminum is recycled and formed into large ingots of base metal, which are then rolled into sheets. Those sheets usually end up at manufacturers and producers warehouses to be formed back into cans and other packaging.

There are recycling procedures for almost any product, from asbestos to electronics, so think twice before sending your garbage down for trash pickup. A little research could go a long way in helping the environment.

Key Takeaways

  • Paper is made into a slurry, and combined with other materials to create new paper
  • Glass is washed, melted, and reformed to create new glass. Glass does not degrade and can be used over and over again
  • Aluminum is cleaned and melted, and pressed into ingots to purify them, and then rolled to make delivery easier.

Need Help?

If you have any questions about the recycling process, contact us today!

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