Posted on June 26, 2008 by Dennis Salazar

What Happens to Our Recycled Stuff?

Ever wonder what happens to your aluminum cans, food containers, corrugated boxes, and other recyclables after they are picked up at the curb?

We did, and not long ago got a tour of Waste Management’s recylcing facility on Chicago’s South Side. This facility happens to be one of the largest in the country. Here’s an inside look.

Recycled materials are delivered in a transfer trailer —

recycled materials transfer trailer

Unsorted materials are dumped into a big pile, which looks surprisingly neat —

incoming recycled materials

Here’s a closer look —

incoming recycled materials close up

Waste Management works their magic, and materials pop out looking like this. Here’s some baled paper —

baled paper

And baled PET containers (they get tons of these) —

baled PET containers

And finally, baled aluminum cans —

baled aluminum cans

More about our tour in upcoming posts, but we thought you’d the pictures enlightening, and in some ways, I think, actually beautiful.