COLUMBUS, OHIO - Have you ever wondered what happens to your recyclables after you drop them off? Have you ever thought about why certain materials can and cannot be recycled? To get these answers, we took a visit to Rumpke Waste & Recycling in Columbus to learn more about the recycling process and how the Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio (SWACO) is educating residents on how to recycle right.
Once materials are collected they are then dropped off at a material recovery facility, where items then go through an extensive process of recycling.
In Franklin County, SWACO accepts certain materials for recycling. Hanna Greer-Brown, Communications Manager with SWACO said that you can recycle your plastic bottles and jugs, glass bottles and jars, metal cans, cartons and all of your household paper and cardboard. And there's a reason why only certain materials are accepted.
"In Franklin county you want to avoid putting plastic bags in your household recycling because when they get to the recycling center they can tangle and stretch in the equipment and that can cause problems for the recycling center," said Greer-Brown.
Rumpke Waste & Recycling, a material recovery facility in Columbus stated that not only do plastic bags cause problems for their machinery but also when people try to recycle batteries or propane tanks.
Gayane Makaryan, East Area Communications Manager, Rumpke Waste & Recycling said that they have their fair share of problems at the recycling center from items that cannot be recycling. "The safety of our team members is our top priority and things like lithium-ion batteries can cause fires and they have caused fires for us," said Makaryan.
And for a company that processes 10,000 tons of material every month in Columbus, Makaryan said that people don't realize how much material that really is and the toll it can take on their machines.
Thousands of pounds of materials get dropped off daily and go through several stages of sorting by both people and sophisticated machinery.
After materials get sorted, they are then baled and sent off to end users and companies that can turn that material into a product.
Makaryan said that pop cans dropped off at the facility are sorted, bailed, transported and are back on the shelves at stores all within a matter of 60 days.
To learn more about the recycling process and how to recycle, visit recycleright.org.