• Plastic~Free Town

How Materials are Recycled

Everyone knows that you should recycle, but do you know what happens to the contents of that blue or green bin once they've been sent away in a truck? If not, read on to learn how different materials are processed before reselling.

Paper is sorted by type, weight, use, color, and whether it has already been recycled. Hot chemicals and water turn the paper into a soup-like pulp. Magnets, gravity, and filters remove staples, glues, and unwanted chemicals from the pulp. Ink is removed by chemicals or by blowing it to the surface and skimming it off. The pulp may be bleached. It is then sprayed, rolled into flat sheets, pressed, and dried. Sometimes, new pulp is added to the recycled pulp to make the paper stronger. Once the giant sheets of paper are dry, they are cut and sent off to be sold.

Plastic is sorted into different types and colors and filtered of contaminants. It is then chopped and melted into pellets or thrust into fibers. These materials can be used in fleece fabric, durable construction materials, molded furniture, or insulation.

Glass is either recycled by being thoroughly cleaned, disinfected, and then reused, or melted into new glass. The second option is done by first sorting the glass by color and grinding it up into small pieces. These bits, known as cullet, are thoroughly filtered using lasers, magnets, and sifters. The cullet is melted down, reformed, and redistributed.

Cans are recycled by being chopped up and heated to remove any paint. The pieces melt and mix in a vortex furnace. After being filtered and treated, the molten aluminum is poured into ingots, which are rolled into flat sheets to make new cans.


Recycle, stay healthy, and thanks for reading!

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