Recycling center is a facility for the collection, storage and processing of recyclable materials including crushing, breaking, sorting, packaging and related operations. A “junk yard” is not a recycling center. Recycling programs around the world take four main forms:
A central location is set up to accept recyclable materials, which the homeowners transport themselves. Even communities with curbside pickup may still have drop-off centers for the reclamation of hazardous materials like paint or propane gas.
These centers are similar to drop-off centers except they pay homeowners for their items based on market values. These are more commonly seen as part of a retail business, such as an auto scrap yard that buys scrap metal by weight.
These programs are familiar to anyone in the United States who has ever purchased a beverage in a can or bottle. The deposit -- typically five cents -- is added to the sale price. You can then return the empty bottle or can to a collection center and redeem it for a refund of the deposit.
Many communities struggle to break even with their recycling programs, with cost benefits depending on widespread participation, which is hard to accomplish in large urban areas. If a municipality has committed to a recycling program, it typically becomes illegal to throw away recyclable materials.
Special trucks fitted with separate containers for different types of recyclable materials travel city streets just like garbage trucks. Workers do a preliminary sorting of materials as they are thrown into the truck. Some communities require homeowners to sort and separate recyclables themselves, but this can reduce participation rates.
Ever wonder how a recycling center works? If you use a single stream* recycling company the process is very different from a dual stream* center. While single stream is a method many municipalities and businesses are adopting, using single stream has been proven to cost more and while more might be collected, less actually gets recycled because of cross-contamination. Cross-contamination is when cans end up at a paper mill or plastic bottles are sent to a glass beneficiation plant.
*Dual Stream: A collection process where fiber items (paper and cardboard) are kept separate from containers (glass, plastic and cans).
*Single Stream: A recycling method where paper, cardboard, plastic, glass and metal to be mixed together for pickup.
With single stream, all materials–paper, plastic and glass–are collected together. At a single stream facility the materials are placed on a conveyor belt and sorted using machines. While advances in technology are getting us closer to successfully separating materials, we have not yet reached the point where we can say that single stream is an efficient way to collect recyclable materials. Studies show that those who use a single stream mainly collect commingled materials which become unrecyclable.
One frequent instance of materials becoming unrecyclable is when glass breaks among fiber items. These small pieces can create a lot of problems for recycling facilities, including causing damage to machinery. When materials become commingled, recycling facilities often have to send them to landfills.