How Does the Single Stream Recycling Process Works
Once upon a time, dual stream recycling processes were the most prevalent used in communities nationwide. However, technology has allowed for the single stream system to rapidly gain popularity. Not only do most consumers now only have one recycling bin in which to throw all of their items and materials, but it also increases the efficiency of curbside pickups.
How, exactly, do these items get sorted for recycling? There are multiple steps in this process. When the items are unloaded they are placed onto conveyor belts and run past employees trained to keep an eye out for non-recyclable goods. This process is very fast-moving. Items are then moved over screens, which separate lightweight and heavier goods. This is done as paper and cardboard materials tend to float past, while heavier objects fall through the screens on to another waiting belt. The items are then taken past extremely strong magnets that will attract steel. A reverse magnet is used to repel any goods made with aluminum into yet another area. The glass and plastic items are separated as puffs of air push the lightweight plastic onto another conveyor belt, which takes them past the light beams of optical scanners that are integral in separating out plastic. The glass, which is unaffected by the air puffs, remain and can then be broken down.
Once the items are all sorted, they can be compacted for sale to manufacturers. For more information on single stream recycling, take a look at the following infographic.