Field Trip: Where Does Our Recycling Go?

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On Wednesday, November 16th, twenty-one of us took a trip to North Raleigh to visit the Sonoco Recycling Center. It was a great experience for us to learn about what happens to our recycling after being picked up by the truck.

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It all starts here at the transfer station. This location in Durham is where both recycling and garbage trucks come deposit what they picked up from our curbs. Their contents are dumped into trailers and hauled to their perspective locations.

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The machine pictured is responsible for sorting all our recyclables. It is called the Material Recovery Facility (MRF). The feed all the recycling into the MRF where the sorting begins.

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We all had a lot of questions for our tour guide Cesar. He answered a lot of misconceptions about what happens to our recycling and surprised us with how the market of recyclables works. He explained how the materials went through the system, were sorted, and then shipped to other locations and made into packaging for products we use every day.

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All our recyclables heading up the conveyor belt to get sorted!

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This belt separates the paper products from the glass, aluminum and plastics. Then they are sent to the respective locations to be bailed and prepped for shipment.

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Here workers are doing a quality control check get any debris or garbage that may till be mixed in with the aluminum.

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Here are all our recyclables bailed and ready to be shipped out to other locations to be remade into new packaging. As you can see this place is a very busy facility that works 24/7 to sort out our waste and keep it from landfills.

We want to thank Sonoco and their employees for being such great hosts. We all learned a lot from the visit. Thanks to Oscar Lyons and Patricia Fossum of Durham Sold Waste Management. Oscar got us to and from the locations safely, and Patricia showed us around the Durham transfer site. Also, thank you to Chelsea Arey of Wake Solid Waste Management for helping to coordinate the visit.