The How To’s of Recycling

Neighborhood Spotlight: Globeville
February 9, 2015
Neighborhood Spotlight: Barnum
February 26, 2015

The How To’s of Recycling

Have you ever wondered where your recyclables go once they’re picked up by Denver Recycles’ trucks? After collection, the contents of your purple carts are taken to the City’s contracted recycling processor, Waste Management’s Material Recovery Facility (MRF) located in north Denver. At this facility, an impressive combination of workers and machinery sort all recyclables into various streams of papers, plastics, metals and glass. Large quantities of the sorted materials are then compressed and baled into large cubes weighing more than one ton each.  The cubes are then transported off site via either rail or truck, sold as commodities on the open market, and eventually made back into new products and packaging. For example, the used aluminum cans you throw in your recycle cart can be back on a store shelf as a recycled content aluminum can in as little as 60 days!

Processing many thousands of pounds of materials each day is no small task. People and technology must work side by side to keep the sorting process running smoothly. While many of the technologies utilized by the MRF are impressive, machines can’t do everything. Each day, workers manually screen incoming materials off conveyor belts at lightning speed.  It is a difficult and fast-paced job, but these dedicated employees make it look easy.

In order to get the cleanest, highest value recyclables as possible and to help keep the recycling facility employees safe, please remember the following tips:

DO Empty and lightly rinse all containers and cartons before placing them in your recycling cart.
DO Flatten all cardboard boxes
DO Reference the acceptable recyclables list located on the Denver Recycles website.
DO NOT Bag your recyclables. Instead, keep all materials loose in your recycling cart
DO NOT Place any plastic bags, plastic film or plastic foam in your recycling cart
NO NEED TO Flatten paper milk and juice cartons, cans or bottles.


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