[Editor’s note: This is the first of two stories focusing on the city of Kokomo’s upcoming curbside recycling program and the state of recycling within the city and Indiana. Make sure to check out next Sunday’s edition of the Kokomo Tribune for the conclusion of this series.]
Imagine tossing a cup of yogurt into a bin that will be collected and taken to a recycling center. How, theoretically, would that same cup of yogurt return to you for a second round of consumption after undergoing the entire recycling process?
That is the task local recycling centers like Kokomo Recycling LLC will play a major role in for the citizens of Kokomo beginning in April with the rollout of a new curbside recycling program.
That yogurt cup would be picked up from a recycling bins on a bi-weekly basis and delivered to Kokomo Recycle, where employees would receive anywhere from 1,500 to 2,000 tons per day of recyclable materials like tin cans, cardboard, paper and glass.
After trucks dump those materials into an infeed conveyor that carries it to a pre-sort deck, workers separate materials that can be recycled from what can’t, including contaminated products, electronics and things like wire that might clog the intake of sorting machines.
The yogurt cup and all other recyclable materials continue to a screen where cardboard is sorted out into a conveyor, while smaller materials fall down to another conveyor. Along the way, glass bottles are separated, broken up and moved out of the stream of remaining recyclables.
At the end of the conveyor, there are a number of containers that are able to separate paper into different grades like office and newsprint, while other “bunkers” sort the remaining materials, including tin cans and that yogurt cup, along with seven different grades of plastic. The materials are pushed through onto a belt that carries it to a baler that will compress bales that weigh anywhere from 1,000 to 1,800 pounds each, depending on the grade or material.