Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Tour of a Sorting Facility

Today I got an IM from a colleague that is on vacation right now.  I thought for sure she was contacting me about work but actually wanted to know if I would like to join her on a tour of a recyclables sorting facility on next Tuesday.  I am very excited about this as I have always been curious about how this works and I already have a some questions  for them.  

I will see if I can get some photos or videos and post them next week sometime.  

I will try to find out the following but if you have questions that you want answered please leave a comment before next monday and I will try to get it answered.

1) What happens to materials that are in the stream but not recyclable?
2) What happens if you don't rinse food containers properly?
3) How do they separate the plastic number 1 from the number 7's.  
4) Why are some materials not recyclable in some towns?
5) Are the materials recycled in the US, Locally, or are they shipped off to other countries to be turned in to new products?
6) How much energy does it take to recycle something and is it really less energy than making one from scratch?
7) Does everything that comes in to the facility get recycled or does it depend on demand for the raw materials, how much comes in or other factors?

I am sure I will come up with more questions as the week goes on and will post a final list of questions next weekend that will contain my final list with any questions you leave in the comments.

More to come.


  1. Three questions:

    Do you really need to take caps/lids off of bottles/jars? If so, what happens to the items that still have their caps/lips intact when they come into the recycling center.

    Why can some centers accept plastic bags and styrofoam and other cannot? (specific question to your #4)

    And a follow-up to your #2: If food needs to be completely rinsed off, when does the "cost" of the water to clean something outweigh the ability to recycle it?

  2. Thanks Chris. Great questions, I will try to get them answered.

    I also want to know as a follow up to #1 and #3 what happens to the plastic that doesn't have a number? Is it really the same type of plastic that the numbered plastic is but the manufacturer just didn't put a number and can these be recycled?

    Keep the questions coming. thanks for adding these!