What happens to my recyclables?
Most of Addison County's recyclables are trucked to the Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) in Rutland. At the MRF, the materials are sorted mechanically using complex separation technology, including a variety of density separators, vibrating screens, magnets, and eddy currents. There is also a high degree of hand sorting and contaminant removal. The separated materials of each type are then pressed into blocks called "bales," and include the following: #1 plastics (soda & water bottles), #2 plastics (milk jugs & laundry detergent bottles), #3-7 plastics, paper, cardboard, aluminum, and steel. Glass is crushed and used as a construction material. The bales of sorted material are sold to processors and manufacturers in the US and abroad to become new products!
Real live people sort your recyclables!
It's important to only recycle items that are accepted in your blue bin to make the sorters' jobs safer, cleaner, and more efficient. Remember to keep "tanglers" (such as plastic bags, clothes, or hoses), scrap metal (like pots & pans or wire hangers), batteries, needles, and dirty containers out of your blue bin. Plastic bags tangle in the star screens, preventing materials from being properly sorted and requiring daily shut-down of the facility to cut them out. Batteries, scrap metal, and needles can all make sorters' jobs dangerous. Dirty and liquid-filled containers contaminate the paper materials and make them less valuable or non-recyclable.
Learn more about special recycling programs or disposal for the materials that cannot go in your blue bin.
All your recyclables should be empty, clean and dry to allow them to be effectively processed. Fill dirty containers like peanut butter and mayo jars with warm soapy water, shake vigorously, and/or let them soak to get out as much residue as possible.
Check out this diagram of the MRF sorting process:
I heard my recyclables just go to the landfill. Is that true?
Nope! You may have heard that global recycling markets have suffered after China, a major importer of recyclables, banned the import of certain recyclable materials and reduced the acceptable contamination level for others in early 2018. For Vermont, paper was most affected by China's policy. Aluminum, cardboard and plastic were less affected because there is a more robust North American market for processing those materials. While the Chinese policy has caused recycling in Vermont to become more expensive, our recyclable materials are not being landfilled. So keep up the great work and keep recycling!