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What Happens to Your Recycling in San José?

What Happens to Your Recycling in San José?


♪ [upbeat music] Recycling right is important for
protecting the environment. Thanks to dedicated residents, 360 tons
of recyclables are processed in San José every day. Still, about one-third of items
placed in recycling carts are landfill because they were recycled incorrectly.
Together we can recycle even better, reduce waste, and meet California and
San José’s world-class recycling goals. Before putting something in your
recycling cart, make sure that’s where it belongs. If you don’t know, look it up.
This San José resident is adding two items to her recycling cart today: an
empty tin can and a food soiled paper plate. Is she recycling right? Let’s find
out as we follow these items on their journey through San José’s recycling
process. A recycling truck will first pick them up and deliver them to a
nearby recycling facility. When recyclable materials arrive everything
is weighed and dumped onto the tipping floor. Loaders transfer the material onto
conveyor belt where workers remove garbage items. This is where the journey
ends for the food soiled paper plate. When food residue attaches to paper
fibers it’s difficult to separate and makes them unrecyclable. The plate is
removed from the recycling stream and sent to the landfill. The remaining
recyclables pass through machines that further separate them. Specialized
screens separate large pieces of cardboard. Glass falls through the
screens and is further separated. Polishing screens separate the remaining
materials into different streams. Next, electromagnetic separators move metals
that contain iron, including our tin can, to other conveyor belts for further
sorting. Optical sorters use infrared technology and compressed air to
separate plastics by type. A strong magnetic field repels the remaining
metals. At the end of the line sorted materials are compressed and bundled
into blocks called bales. The bales are sold and shipped to processors who
recycle them into new items. Because it was recycled right, our empty tin can
will find a new use as a new tin can, or even a bicycle, or appliance. So let’s recycle
right and keep garbage out of the recycling cart. If you aren’t sure if
something is recyclable, don’t put it in the recycling bin. Look it up first. These
simple and important steps will protect the environment and keep San José clean.

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