What happens to your recyclables once they reach the recycling center?
At the Larimer County Recycling Center, since we switched to single stream recycling in October 2005, not as much activity is to be seen. Previously we had a big sorting maching that sorted all the cans and bottles, but now most recyclable materials are simply dumped on the floor of the recycling center and then immediately loaded into a big semi-trailer. The trailer is then driven to Waste Management Recycle America's "materials recovery facility" in Denver.
At the Denver facility, the recyclables — which include cans, bottles and a mix of different types of paper (like cardboard, newspaper, junk mail, etc.) — are run through a state-of-the-art sorting machine. Whereas our old sorting machine in Larimer County only sorted the cans and bottles, this new machine in Denver can sort everything recyclable, with the help of some workers. The photos below show this amazing machine in action.
After being sorted here, the recyclables are baled and shipped off to remanufacturing plants all over the country to be made into new materials.
Our Larimer County facility also bales some material. We still accept pre-sorted paper recyclables, which don't need to go to the Denver facility. For instance, we may get a truckload of just cardboard. In these instances, the paper is run through the baler and then shipped directly to the remanufacturing facility, where it will be made into new material.