What happens to recyclables?

Recycling can be a complicated business. What’s accepted for recycling in your curbside bin is determined by the demand from companies who make new products from your recycled “stuff.” Without an end market, everything in your recycling bin would end up in the trash. Luckily, there is a strong market for our many commonly used goods like plastics, glass, paper and metal.

First stop: your recycling bin.

It’s important to start with high quality recyclables in your recycling bin.

  • Give containers a quick rinse (no need for a full dishwasher cycle)
  • Plastics should be limited to bottles, tubs, jugs, jars and lids. Be sure to toss out any disposable-type plastics like plastic cups, plates, utensils, and clam-shell produce containers.
  • Greasy pizza boxes should be thrown away (or torn in half to recycle the clean top half).

Next up: the processing facility.

Recyclables are picked up at your curb or the drop-off shed and hauled to a processing facility. Depending on your waste hauler, that could be as close as Proctor, MN or as far away as Minneapolis.

  • The materials are separated using a variety of automated and manual methods.
  • “Contamination”, or non-recyclable materials, are pulled out and thrown away.

Finally: the recycling markets.

Recycling processing facilities work diligently to find end markets for as many types of material as possible. They work directly with large and small manufacturers that use these materials to negotiate quantities, prices, and transportation logistics.

What drives those markets? You do!

  • Check labels and choose products that are made from post-consumer recycled content (the stuff we put into our recycling bins)

Find Recycled Products