Where Do Recyclables Go?

Page updated on Sep 29, 2015 at 11:04 AM

Residential Recycling Materials

  1. Once the recyclables are collected from your blue cart, they are taken to a Single Stream Materials Recycling Facility (MRF).
  2. At the Materials Recycling Facility (MRF), the recyclables are separated by type: plastics, glass, metal, paper and cardboard. To learn more about how recyclables are sorted, watch this short video from WM Recycle America's Elkridge MRF.
  3. Each type of material is consolidated into bales (except for glass). These bales are loaded onto a truck, and sent to manufacturing plants where the recyclables are used to make new products.

Recycling Drop-off Location Materials

Materials that are brought to the City's four recycling drop-off locations are taken to a local sorting facility. This location does not accept 'single stream' materials. All materials must be placed in the correct container at all City recycling drop-off locations.

Paper from the truck is emptied on to the floor of the facility and pushed on to a conveyor belt. Once on the conveyor belt, the paper is sorted into the different types.  Paper sorting is done by machines and people. Here is a sorting line where the workers are removing trash and other non-recyclable items from all the paper items. 
A pile of containers emptied from curbside collection trucks. The containers will be sent on a conveyor belt (right), just like the paper, so that the different types of containers can be separated. Plastics, aluminum and glass are all sorted, and plastics are further sorted by their type.
Materials are separated, with plastic milk jugs and laundry detergents on the left, and aluminum cans on the right.  Glass bottles that were separated from
the plastic and aluminum are here on this conveyor belt.
Each type of material is then baled into a large cube (except for glass). These bales of materials are then loaded onto a truck, and then sent to manufacturing plant where the recyclables are used to make new products.
Bales of office paper
(with staff standing next to for scale)
Bales of plastic water and soda bottles