We all know that we should recycle and that it’s good for the environment, but what happens after the trash company takes away the recycling bin? Where do the recycled materials get taken, and what do they turn into? As a dumpster rental company in Cary, we wanted to give you an overview on what happens to some common recycled materials.
When glass is received at the recycling center, it first gets separated by color, because recycled glass retains its color. Heat resistant glass is unfortunately not recyclable, and it can even ruin an otherwise recyclable batch of glass. After the glass is in its appropriate place, it is smashed to form small pieces called cullet, when then get cleaned of contaminants with lasers, magnets, suction, and more. Finally, the cullet is melted at over 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit with chemicals to create liquid glass. This new liquid glass is pressed into new bottles. These new bottles can even be recycled, and the process can begin again.
Just like glass, paper needs to be separated into its various types. There are seven common types of paper that differ in texture and weight. Once the paper is sorted, it is treated with water, hydrogen peroxide, and caustic soda mixed with soap. This turns the paper into a pulp, and the pulp gets filtered through a screen to remove any contaminants. The next step is to remove the ink from the pulp, which is done by washing or floating the pulp in water. This will produce a white pulp, which is then fed through rollers to remove most of the moisture, and then dryers to remove the rest of the moisture. Finally, the pulp is pressed through the rollers again to create the desired paper.
Aluminum is a very popular material to recycle, for good reason. Anything made of aluminum can be recycled, and it’s very stable, meaning that it can be recycled over and over again. In fact, almost two-thirds of all the aluminum in use today has been used before. Recycling aluminum saves around 95% of the energy it would otherwise take to create a new can, so this is extremely beneficial for the environment. Unlike the other types of recycling, the only sorting that needs to be done with aluminum is to remove non-aluminum items from the bin. The aluminum is the placed in a hydraulic press, and the aluminum is crushed into square bales. Then bales are then sent to a smelter, who melts all the aluminum down and presses it into new sheets. The new sheets can then be formed into new products, simple as that. The aluminum lifecycle is very fast, as this entire process takes only 60-90 days end-to-end. This means that you could very well have used the same aluminum more than once in only a matter of months, and you didn’t even know about it!
We hope that this article sheds some more light on the recycling process. If you have any other waste management questions, feel free to reach out and give us a call.