Over 60% of Hamilton County’s population participates in recycling, either through a curbside or drop-off program. But placing your bottles, cans, and old newspaper on the curb or in a drop-off box is just the beginning of the recycling process. What happens to your recyclables?
Step One: Collection
Your recycling hauler collects the material in your curbside bin using a separate truck from garbage and yard waste. The trucks, which are similar to those used for garbage, maximize space by slightly compacting the material. This increases collection efficiency because the driver can make more stops on their route.
Step Two: Processing
The recycling truck transports the recyclables to a material recovery facility, or MRF, and unloads everything onto the floor. Two MRFs located in Hamilton County accept curbside recyclables, one in St. Bernard and the other in Lockland. As the recyclables make their way through the MRF on a series of conveyer belts, workers and mechanical systems separate the material by type. The large piles of separated aluminum cans, plastic bottles, paper, and other materials go through a baler to become compact and transportable. The recycler then sends the bales to an end-user.
Step Three: Manufacturing
End users, or manufacturers, use the material as feedstock to make new products. Materials like aluminum and plastic are melted down under very high temperatures and reformed into new cans, bottles, and other products. Manufacturers recycle paper by mixing it with water to break it down into pulp that can be pressed into new sheets of paper.
And that is where you, the conscientious consumer, come in again. To truly “close the loop” residents and businesses must buy recycled-content products.