When you set your materials out at curbside, take them to your multi-family recycling location or to a depot, they are collected by a specialized truck that transports your packaging and printed paper to a recycling facility. These trucks are designed for efficient collection. Some have automated arms, compaction systems and even the ability to collect other waste types in separate compartments.
Curbside and multi-family
Most materials collected in the MMBC collection system are "multi-stream", which means that residents sort their materials.
Some MMBC collection areas collect glass at curbside or from multi-family buildings, but in a separate container.
Difficult-to-manage materials, such as glass, plastic foam and plastic bags and overwrap are collected separately at MMBC depots so that they do not mix with other recyclables and spoil their recyclability. Most of these conveniently located depots also accept your packaging and printed paper. For a full list of depots visit the RecyclingInBC website.
Be sure to check your MMBC Recycling Guide or with your local municipality to ensure that you’re sorting your material properly.
Materials are transported to a material recovery facility (MRF) and put onto a conveyor belt where they enter the sorting process.
The materials travel along a series of conveyor belts where large non-recyclable items are first manually removed. The process then continues, using equipment such as fibre separators, magnetic separators, optical sorters and eddy currents to separate the different materials into their designated categories. The materials continue along more conveyor belts for further sorting into separate bunkers or a final quality control clean-up before dropping into a separate bunker.
A fibre screen separates heavy and light material using star-shaped steel discs. Paper and envelopes fall below the screen while larger cardboard is propelled over.
A magnetic separator is suspended over a conveyor belt and runs continuously to remove steel cans from the stream of materials travelling below.
An eddy current causes aluminum cans, pie plates, etc. to be repelled into a separate collection bin.
An optical sorter uses infrared light to detect material compositions. It then uses an air jet to sort materials.
There can be many optical sorters in a sorting facility.
The final sorted materials, such as plastic jugs, aluminum cans, steel cans, newspaper, cardboard, etc. are baled and prepared for shipping.
Once a full truck load of sorted bales is ready, the bales are shipped off to material remanufacturers to be processed into new materials.
Plastics are shredded, washed and pelletized.
Paper is pulped and pressed into fibre.
Some materials are recycled back to their original purpose, like plastic bottles and paper products, closing the loop of the product’s life cycle. Others are transformed into completely new products like furniture, car bumpers and shelving. Some materials, such as steel and aluminum cans, have no limit to the number of times they can be recycled.
Using recycled material reduces the need to harvest virgin resources from the earth and promotes sustainable manufacturing.
Once the new products and packaging are created, they are packaged and sold back to you. Your materials are recycled into any of these products, plus many more!
Recycling In Action
Want to learn more? Watch the video below to see the recycling process in action!