Spot on Science: Recycling Center

MARGARET: WHEN YOU TAKE THAT LAST SIP OF MILK – YOU TOSS THE JUG.  NO! NOT IN THE TRASH! IN THE RECYCLE BIN! THERE, IT JOINS CANS, BOTTLES, AND NEWSPAPERS THAT ARE DESTINED FOR ANOTHER LIFE AS RECYCLED PRODUCTS. BUT – HOW EXACTLY DO THESE MATERIALS GO FROM A BIN ON YOUR CURB TO SORTED-OUT MATERIALS READY TO BE REUSED? WELL, TO START, THEY’RE BROUGHT TO PLACES LIKE THIS. KIMBLE COMPANIES’ RECYCLING CENTER IN TWINSBURG.

[KEITH CORDESMAN CLIP]

MARGARET: YOUR RECYCLING IS PROBABLY SOMEWHERE IN THIS MOUNTAIN OF GARBAGE – AND SOON IT’S LOADED ON A SERIES OF CONVEYOR BELTS. IN FACT, MOST OF THE PLANT CONSISTS OF THESE CONVEYOR BELTS. THEY’RE EVERYWHERE! THAT’S BECAUSE THIS MATERIAL HAS TO BE SORTED – PAPER, GLASS, AND THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF PLASTIC AND METAL HAVE TO BE SEPARATED BECAUSE THEY’RE ALL RECYCLED INTO DIFFERENT THINGS. AND THE CONVEYOR BELT BRINGS THEM TO MACHINES THAT HELP WITH THE SORTING. ONE USES A MAGNETIC CURRENT TO COLLECT CANS –

[KEVIN EIDENS CLIP]

MARGARET: ANOTHER USES INFRARED LASERS TO SEPARATE DIFFERENT KINDS OF PLASTIC -

[KEVIN EIDENS CLIP]

MARGARET: AND GRAVITY HELPS TOO – GLASS IS HEAVY, SO IN SINKS TO THE BOTTOM, WHERE IT IS BROKEN UP INTO LITTLE BITS BEFORE IT’S RECYCLED – AND PAPER IS LIGHT, SO IT RISES TO THE TOP ON A CONVEYOR BELT. BUT MUCH OF THE SORTING OF MATERIALS IS DONE BY PEOPLE – THEY’RE CALLED SORTERS. AND THEY’RE AT EVERY STAGE, WORKING WITH THE MACHINES TO SEPARATE MATERIALS. THEY’RE EVEN AT THE VERY BEGINNING OF THE PROCESS, TAKING OUT THE WEIRD THINGS THAT SHOULDN’T BE
IN A RECYCLE BIN –

[KEVIN EIDENS CLIP]

MARGARET: --AND THAT INCLUDES PLASTIC BAGS.

[KEVIN EIDENS CLIP]

MARGARET: THE LAST SORTER AT THE PLANT RESCUES RECYCLABLES THAT MANAGED TO SNEAK THROUGH THE SYSTEM WITHOUT BEING PROPERLY SORTED. FINALLY, ALL THE SEPARATED MATERIALS ARE CRUSHED INTO THESE GIANT CUBES -- LIKE BALES OF HAY! THESE
CUBES ARE STACKED ALL AROUND, WAITING TO BE TAKEN TO THEIR FINAL DESTINATION, WHERE THEY ARE CLEANED AND GIVEN ANOTHER LIFE. IT’S FOR THIS REASON, THAT PLANT MANAGER KEVIN EIDENS (EYE-DENS) HAS A RECYCLING TIP:

[KEVIN EIDENS CLIP]

MARGARET: BUT EVEN IF YOU CAN’T SCRAPE OUT THAT LAST BIT OF PEANUT BUTTER, KEVIN SAYS YOU SHOULD STILL GO AHEAD AND TOSS IT IN THE RECYCLE BIN!


Find Out More


Online Interactive Game: NatureBridge, My Garbology | Learn about what can be recycled & waste management conservation

Website Article: National Institute of Environmental Health Science, Kids Environment, Kids Health, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle | Recycling info & tips

Website Article: Maine.gov, What Do Your Recyclables Become? | Interactive site. Click on item to see what it may become.

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