From Destruction to Recycled: The Recycling Process
A Step-by-Step Look at Milwaukee's Recycling Process
Source: Recycle More Wisconsin
- Residents and commercial businesses dispose of their recyclable materials in marked bins
- Municipal waste trucks come and pick up the disposed of recyclables.
- Each truck returns to the recycling center where they weigh in and then dump all materials onto a huge loading device is known as a “tip floor.”
- The tip floor and a front-end loader push all the materials onto a conveyor belt, where the travel towards the sorting lines.
- Recycling center workers directly sort through the materials based on their chemical makeup. For instance, cardboard is separated from newspaper and different plastic grades are separated from one another.
- Paper materials are sorted and bailed according to type. Plastic bottles, cans and packaging are further sorted mechanically.
- The glass is manually sorted by color for shipment to glass factories, who can melt down the glass, chemically treat it then reintroduce it into new glass products.
- Plastics are sorted by type and, occasionally, color. Non-recyclable trash and food materials are removed.
- Eventually, all plastics are baled according to type.
- Full loads of shipping containers or truck trailers are hauled away to various manufacturers of recycled goods products. Milwaukee sends recyclable materials to a variety of processing centers both in Wisconsin and abroad, sometimes going as far as Huangpu, China.
A Look at Paper Recycling
Every recyclable material has a different process for breaking down waste into reusable products. Since we at PROSHRED® Milwaukee directly contribute to paper recycling, we will look at the process of how shredded paper bales become new paper products.
- Paper shreds are further shredded to create an ultra-fine substrate
- Water is added to this substrate to form a slurry known as paper pulp
- Chemicals are added to remove inks, dyes and unwanted elements from the paper fibers
- Clean, un-inked paper pulp is dripped onto a mesh screen, forming a large, mostly even sheet of wet pulp. The pulp travels along the screen as water drips underneath.
- Water is further removed and the pulp mass is pressed by running the conveyor belt through a series of rollers
- Rollers gradually add more pressure along with heat and air drying as the mass of pulp becomes more paper-like
The final, finished paper is spun into rolls to be used for further processing into materials like newspapers, toilet tissue, paper towels and even copier paper