The Recycle Cycle – What happens after it leaves your curb!

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The Recycle Cycle – What happens after it leaves your curb!

Often residents are not sure what happens to the material in the blue box after it leaves the curb other than a blue truck comes and picks up the material inside. Some people think this material goes to a facility and its automatically recycled. The truth is your blue box recyclables goes through an intense sorting process before it can be sent to be recycled. Below you can experience a virtual tour and follow the recycle cycle to learn what really does happen once your recycling leaves the curb.


Step 1: Blue Box to the Curb

The recycle cycle starts with you. The first step in recycling is placing your properly sorted blue box out to the curb by 7am on your collection day. To ensure that your blue box is properly sorted watch the video below.


Step 2: Drivers Collect Blue Box

A common question we get asked is “why do I spend the time to sort my blue box if it all just goes into the truck?”. To find out the answer watch this short video below.


Step 3: Truck Arrives at Quinte Waste Solutions

All blue box material collected from the nine municipalities that we service is brought to our Material Recovery Facility (MRF) in Trenton. At this facility, material goes through an extensive sorting process.

This facility is open Monday to Friday for residents to drop off excess recyclables, e-waste, exchanging broken blue boxes, and to purchase new boxes or backyard composters. To find out more about these hours click here. Note that our e-waste hours are not the same and what you can bring can be discovered here.












Step 4: Truck on Scale

Every time a truck comes to our facility it must go on our scale before and after it dumps or picks up material. This is done to track the weight of recycling coming from each municipality. We also track the weights of material that is shipped out so we know how much of each material is being shipped out and sold.















Step 5: Tipping Floors

Once trucks are weighed they head to the tipping floors. Paper and paper packaging are dumped first. Half of this tipping floor is dedicated to paper and paper packaging while the other half is where plastic and metal containers are unloaded.















Drivers move to the next bay where they dump plastic and metal containers.

Once material is dumped onto the tipping floors, a loader scoops the paper material onto a giant conveyor belt and it is sent up to the paper sort lines to be further sorted into four different categories. Plastic and metal containers are sent up a separate belt to be sorted into six different categories.

This is why we ask residents to pre-sort their recycling into these two categories.









Corrugated cardboard is the last material to be dumped. This type of material is dumped right in the plant beside the baler.









The driver is off again.

The driver scales out and hits the road to start the process over.

















Meanwhile in the facility, your recyclables are beginning their sorting process.

Step 6: Sort Lines

Plastic and Metal Containers

The plastic and metal containers are sent down a conveyor belt to be sorted by hand. Each staff member on the line is responsible for picking out one type of material and throwing it into a bunker in front of them. This is one reason we ask residents to rinse out their recyclables––almost everything you put in your blue box is touched by a human hand!


Before the plastic and metal containers reach this line they go under a large rotating magnetic belt that picks up tin cans. And after the sort line, excess material passes an eddy current machine. This machine uses positive and negative energy to separate aluminum.










Number 1 plastic (PET), number 2 (HDPE) and number 5 (PP)  have their own bunker in front of this sort line.








Paper and Paper Products

Paper, paper products and film plastic are all sorted on a separate line.

When putting your unread newspapers in the blue box please take the newspaper out of the closed bag. This helps the line run more smoothly, and avoids down time.















Material on this sort line are sorted into corrugated cardboard, boxboard, cartons, film plastic (#4) and newspaper.  Shredded office paper is sent to the end of the line.




Step 7: The Baler

As the bunkers fill up, separated material is transported to this large conveyor belt then gets compressed and baled.

















As material comes out of the baler it is secured and then moved by a forklift to be stored with bales of the same kind.





Step 8: Storing the bales

Where material is stored depends on the type of material it is. Material that can handle the weather is stored outside, while other materials are stored in the plant.

Once there are enough bales of each type of material they are sold to re-processors who do the actual recycling.  The money generated from these sales helps offset the cost to run the blue box program.












Step 9: Repeat

The recycle cycle is a vital part of diverting waste from landfill in today’s society and this cycle starts with you.

If you have any questions about your recycling practice do not hesitate to contact Quinte Waste Solutions.


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