How your plastics get recycled

How your plastics get recycled

As part of our semi-annual Super Shredder Day, we visited Rivers Recycling near Kilgore to learn what happens to all the plastic you throw in your recycling bin.

On Wednesdays alone they get twelve truck-loads from Longview.

"We get two to three grades of paper, cardboard, plastics," Vice President Todd Lucas said.

Lucas said plastics make up about 30% of all the recycling.

"It is either going to be blended back in with some virgin material or it's going to be re-molded and used as a recycled product," he said as he looked over pallets of milk cartons.

Lucas said the fact that East Texas cities are letting us throw all our recyclables in one bin means more of us are doing it. He and his family were filling two large trash cans a week until they started recycling.

"We found that our trash cart only had one, maybe two bags," Lucas said. "So it was maybe one quarter to one third full every week."

Someone has to sort the rest of it out. From the truck it climbs up a processing line to get hand sorted. Colored and opaque plastics are separated from water bottles--which get separated from milk cartons.

Those cartons get pushed into a compactor and eventually turned into a 1,400 pound brick.

Then it's taken across the warehouse and stacked neatly for shipping.

Things like milk jugs can end up as new milk jugs. Water bottles sometimes end up as fleece jackets.


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