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From Destruction to Recycled: The Recycling Process

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A Step-by-Step Look at Milwaukee's Recycling Process

Source: Recycle More Wisconsin

  1. Residents and commercial businesses dispose of their recyclable materials in marked bins
  2. Municipal waste trucks come and pick up the disposed of recyclables.
  3. 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.”
  4. The tip floor and a front-end loader push all the materials onto a conveyor belt, where the travel towards the sorting lines.
  5. 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.
  6. Paper materials are sorted and bailed according to type. Plastic bottles, cans and packaging are further sorted mechanically.
  7. 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.
  8. Plastics are sorted by type and, occasionally, color. Non-recyclable trash and food materials are removed.
  9. Eventually, all plastics are baled according to type.
  10. 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.

  1. Paper shreds are further shredded to create an ultra-fine substrate
  2. Water is added to this substrate to form a slurry known as paper pulp
  3. Chemicals are added to remove inks, dyes and unwanted elements from the paper fibers
  4. 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.
  5. Water is further removed and the pulp mass is pressed by running the conveyor belt through a series of rollers
  6. 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

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