Recent years have seen the trend of single stream process recycling increase significantly. In fact, the majority of Americans who take part in recycling programs are now using this particular process.
With single stream, multiple types of items that are made of varying materials can be placed together into a singular recycling bin to be sorted and categorized later on. Once the bins are put out, collection trucks pick up curbside and take the items to a Materials Recovery Facility, or MRF. This is where objects are separated, baled, and prepped for selling to manufacturers. Once the truck unloads, materials are placed on a conveyor belt and taken past employees who remove non-recyclable items at rapid speeds. Objects such as plastic bags, Styrofoam, and yard waste are just a few of the items that need to be removed. Screens are then used for the separation of other materials like lightweight paper and cardboard from heavier items such as glass and metal. Magnets, puffs of air and optical scanners are also used to assist in the sorting process.
When recycling, keep in mind that unacceptable objects can create blockages and jams in the machinery used at the facility. In fact, plastic bags are one of the primary offenders, resulting in machine shut downs while the issue is addressed. For more information on the single stream recycling process, check out the infographic below.