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Recycling Process


 What Happens To Recycle Material After It Leaves The Curb?
(by Joni Rollen, Solid Waste Division Gainesville, FL)   

Last update:  3/09/13                                                                                                                                        

Material Type How is the recovered material processed into a useful product? Where are the markets located? What products are made from Recycled materials? How much energy is saved by recycling?

Newspaper     Office Paper Mixed paper

A chemical process separates ink from the newspaper fibers, which are then turned into pulp and washed. Screens remove contaminants. The pulp is bleached and mixed with wood chips to strengthen it. The pulp is poured on a screen to drain, then flattened and dried as it passes through steam-heated rollers. It is trimmed and rolled to be re-used as newspaper and other paper products. Waste Corp. of America picks it up from the curb & takes it to SP Recycling who sorts & bales the product and sends newspaper to SP Newsprint in Dublin, GA., Office paper to Ekman Recycling, Brick, NJ. Mixed paper to Visy Recycling, Conyers, GA and America Chung Nam, City of Industry, CA. Reprocessed into newspaper, envelopes and paper. Manufacture molded packaging such as flowerpots, egg cartons and pasteboard boxes.  Other items are Napkins, tissue, toilet paper and cat litter.  Recycling one ton of newspaper saves three tons of wood pulp. It saves the equivalent of 3,000-kilowatt hours of electricity, or 23% of the energy required to process a ton of newspaper from new pulp.

Cardboard and Pasteboard

Corrugated cardboard is pulped and blended with new pulp from wood chips. The pulp is screened, rolled and dried into two types of cardboard called medium (the inner layer) and linerboard (the smooth outer layers). Both are sold to a box-board plant to be formed into new corrugated cardboard After its picked up at the curb by Waste Corp. of America it goes to SP Recycling who in turn sorts & bales it & sends it to Rock Tenn, Jacksonville, FL Manufactures medium - The ribbed inner layer of corrugated cardboard.
Manufactures linerboard - The outer layer of corrugated cardboard. Can also be made into brown paper bags & paperboard (ex. cereal, shoe & tissue boxes).
Recycling one ton of cardboard saves 3 tons of wood pulp. It saves the equivalent of 3,000 kilowatt hours of the energy needed to process one ton of corrugated cardboard from fresh pulp.
Aluminum Aluminum scrap is ground and shredded into small chips before being melted and cast into ingots. The ingots are sent to manufacturing plants where they are molded or rolled into sheets that can be shaped into various products. After its sorted & baled by SP Recycling its shipped to Anheuser Busch Recycling, Muscle Shoals, AL  Roller sheets of aluminum are formed back into aluminum cans. Recycled aluminum cans, very likely, will be back on the shelf for purchase again within 60 days. Recycled aluminum has the same quality as new. Aluminum is the biggest energy saver of all, saving 64,300-kilowatt hours per ton of reclaimed material. Thats 96%!!
Steel Cans Tin cans are really tin-coated steel cans. The tin coating on steel cans is removed with a caustic de-tinning solution by electrolysis. The remaining steel is rinsed and baled and sold to a steel mill. The tin is also a valuable ingredient for many products. Steel is also sorted & baled by SP Recycling and shipped to Tubecity, Fairfield, AL. Steel can be recycled back into food cans.  Other items are auto parts and tools. Reclaiming a ton of tin or steel saves 1.5 tons of ore. Tin saves an estimated 2,600-kilowatt hours per ton. Steel saves an average 4,300-kilowatt hours per ton or 47% of the energy required to process steel from raw materials.
Glass A mechanical processing system breaks the glass into small pieces called cullet. Magnets, screens and vacuum systems remove metals, labels, bits of plastic, and caps. The cullet is blended with silica sand, soda ash and limestone. The mixture is melted and blow-molded into new glass containers. SP Recycling sorts the glass and then loads it loose into dump trailers and sends it to Strategic Materials, Sarasota, FL. It can be remanufactured into new glass containers or into stain glass, jewelry, marbles, or even roofing shingles and countertops. Recycling one ton of glass saves 1.2 tons of new raw materials. It saves the equivalent of 860-kilowatt hours of electricity or 18% of the energy needed to form new glass.
Plastics Plastics need to be sorted by type (#1, #2, etc.) because many plastic resins are used that are incompatible in the recycling process. The plastic may be shredded, baled or chipped before it is shipped to the reprocessing plant. Resins are melted and remolded into new products. SP Recycling sorts & bales the plastics. PET goes to Clear Path Recycling in Fayetteville, NC and Ekman Recycling, Brick, NJ..  HDPE goes to Nemo Plastics, Reidsville SE and Clean Tech, Dundee MI.  Mixed plastics (all other types) go to Pralumex, Walnuc, CA. #1 PETE (polyethylene terephthalate) - Carpet & carpet backing, polyester filling, threads and yarn.  Also, soda bottles, food jars & bottles, clothing and tote bags, .

#2 HDPE (high-density Polyethylene) -Beverage bottles/jugs, trash/grocery bags, food storage containers, tarps and bottle caps.  

#3 - 7 (mixed plastics) - Molded products, plastic lumber, pallets, wire & cable insulation, siding, plumbing pipes & fittings, food bags, plates/cups, and toys.
Plastics are derived from energy resources such as coal, petroleum, and natural gas, so any material recovered is an energy savings. In addition, 90% of the manufacturing process energy needs to produce new plastics is saved by recycling.