In the United States, recycling machines help keep 2.4 tons of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere for every ton of paper, plastic or metal that gets recycled. It’s a big job, but it’s one that has been made much easier by recent innovations in recycling equipment. This is particularly true with single-stream recycling, where items like paper, glass and aluminum all go into the same bin. These are then hauled away by trucks to materials-recovery plants, such as the Willimantic Waste Paper facility in Connecticut, where a largely automated system of conveyor belts, screens, magnets and lasers separates items so they can be sold to paper mills, metal and plastic recyclers or melted down for new products.
Many different types of recycling machines exist, but the most important is the shredder. This is responsible for cutting the recyclable materials into small pieces, making it much more manageable. Other machines may use disc screeners or filters to distinguish the trash from other materials, such as removing liquids and separating metals.
Once these pieces have been sorted, they can be put through the baling machine. This is responsible for compressing the waste into large, manageable bales that can be shipped to factories. These machines are often computerized, allowing them to adjust their settings based on the type of material being processed and how it is best handled.
A centrifuge separator is another essential machine for processing waste. This multifunctional machine can wash-clean, dry and separate crushed plastics materials by running them through a perforated trommel. It works by rotating the rotor at 1,500 revolutions per minute, causing the heavy plastics to sink while lighter non-plastic materials and water rise up through the mesh and are thrown out.
The Repro-Flex recycling machine is also useful for extruding waste and reprocessing washed flakes, scraps and regrind (pre-crushed plastic waste from injection and extrusion). This machine is ideal for producing blown film and PP woven bags as well as other types of post-industrial waste.
For consumers, the easiest way to recycle is to think about bottles, tubs, jars and jugs when buying food, beverages and household goods. These are the only types of plastics that can be recycled at this time, since others have mixed components or no end-use markets. To be safe, check your items to make sure they are labeled correctly. The best way to do this is by using the EPA’s online search tool or checking with your local recycling plant. This will tell you exactly what can be recycled in your area. In some cities, people can even earn cash or credit for recycling their plastics. For example, a pilot program in Beijing offers citizens who deposit an eligible item a discount on public transportation tickets. Similar programs are in place in Turkey and Italy. In addition, a company called Recyclebank rewards participants with fast food coupons, concert tickets and airline miles. The latter is a great option for those who travel a lot for work or school and would like to reduce their carbon footprint.