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Where do Federal Way’s recyclables go?
You put your recycling cart at the curb, Waste Management’s drivers empty it, and the contents seemingly disappear. Have you ever wondered what happens to all those bottles, cans and newspapers?
Federal Way’s recyclables are loaded into large trailers and hauled to Waste Management’s Cascade Recycling Center in Woodinville.
The recyclables are placed on a conveyor belt and move through a series of mechanical screens that use size, gravity and magnets to separate the various materials. About 30 workers remove contaminants and make sure the system sorts the recyclables as efficiently as possible.
The sorted materials are stored in bunkers until they are taken to balers.
There, the materials are tightly condensed into bales that weigh about a ton each.
These bales are loaded into shipping containers and transported by truck, train and ship to locations around the world. The recycled materials are then used to make recycled-content products.
Finally, the new recycled-content products made from your recyclables end up on store shelves, in mailboxes, and on newsstands.
At that point you get the opportunity to “complete the recycling loop” by identifying and purchasing items that contain “post-consumer recycled content.” The next time you buy tissue, paper towels, school supplies, or printing paper, remember to look for “post-consumer” recycled-content.
Using recycled-content products increases the demand for recyclables, creates jobs, conserves resources and saves energy.
As the saying goes, “you aren’t really recycling unless you buy recycled products.”
For a quick tour of the sorting process, check out http://thinkgreen.com/video-recycling-single-stream.