Recycling: How Does It Work?
What happens to the items after they are collected from your household?
All recyclable items are brought to the City’s Collection Station where they are tipped into large transfer trucks which then transport the loads to the TDS Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) in Creedmoor. At this 106,000-square-foot facility, items are sorted, compressed, baled, stored, and then shipped out to be made into new products. Below is a photo tour of the process.
Transfer truck: At the Collection Station in Georgetown, the recycling collection trucks dump recyclables into a larger transfer truck,
Loaded into hopper: When collection trucks arrive at the materials recovery facility, all of the bottles, cans, paper, cardboard, and other items are unloaded. A front-end loader puts the recyclables into a hopper that feeds them to a conveyor belt.
First sort: Trash and corrugated cardboard are pulled out by hand and dropped into separate chutes that go to large bins below. Trash is trucked to the landfill and cardboard goes to the fiber baler.
Glass sorting rollers: Slotted rollers pull out and crush glass bottles. The glass is used as aggregate for development projects at the 1,750-acre TDS landfill, composting, and recycling facility. In addition, TDS intends to seek state approval for using properly-specified broken glass as drainage media in leachate collection systems at the landfill.
Container/paper sorting machine: The conveyor feeds the remaining stream of recyclables to a rake-like separator that allows plastic and metal containers to drop off to a side conveyor. Paper and cardboard roll over the top.
Fiber sorting lines: On three conveyor lines, fiber items including paper, cardboard, and boxboard are pulled out by hand and dropped into chutes over separate bins. Then they are ready to be fed to a conveyor that goes to the fiber baler.
Container sorting lines: On a similar container line, various types of plastic bottles are pulled off by hand and dropped into bins for the container baler.
Magnetic can sorters: After plastics are removed from the container line, a rotating magnet above the line grabs steel metal cans and pulls them into a bin. After steel cans are removed, an eddy current separator (above) is used to remove aluminum cans from the line. This separator uses a magnetized rotor under the conveyor that repels non-ferrous aluminum cans, causing them to jump off the belt and drop into a bin. That’s Jimmy Gregory, a TDS owner, at the facility.
Fiber baler: Paper and cardboard are fed to a fiber baler, which runs continuously. Pictured are City of Georgetown Environmental and Conservation employees Gabriel Dominguez, Ken Arnold, and Rachel Osgood.
Fiber bales: Bales of paper and cardboard are stacked and stored. TDS sells the bales and they are loaded on trucks and shipped to paper mills and manufacturers located throughout the southern U.S. and northern Mexico. Recycled fibers are used to manufacture thousands of new products such as newspaper, office paper and cardboard boxes. Pictured are Fredy Rodriguez, materials recovery facility operations manager, and Ken Arnold.
Container baler: Plastic containers and metal cans are fed to a separate compactor and baler for containers.
Metal and plastic bales: Bales of compacted bi-metal cans (made of steel and tin) and aluminum cans are stored and sold to metal processors. The metals are used to make a wide variety of metal products. Bales of PET (no. 1 plastics), HDPE (no. 2 plastics), and mixed plastics are sold to manufacturers that make thousands of products including lumber, bottles, and carpeting.
The materials recovery facility is located within the TDS Eco Industrial Park at the landfill property. Rather than shipping processed recyclables to end markets outside of the state, TDS is working toward starting companies and/or recruiting partners to construct secondary processing facilities adjacent to the materials recovery facility inside the TDS Eco Industrial Park.