Those bales of raw materials are sold to manufacturing companies and sent to a reclaiming facility. At the facility, any trash or dirt is sorted out. Then, the plastic from the yogurt cup is washed and ground into small flakes. A flotation tank then further separates contaminants, based on their different densities. Flakes are then dried, melted, filtered and formed into pellets. The pellets are shipped to product manufacturing plants, where they are made into new plastic products.
Manufacturers will then use those materials to make products like that yogurt cup all over again.
It’s a far cry from the days of citizens separating all of their recyclables themselves and transporting it to area bins, making the process much easier for anyone to pick up on recycling.
The ease of that process, along with the continually growing cost of tipping fees incurred by cities for the use of landfills has made curbside recycling a no-brainer for the future of waste management in the city of Kokomo.
Will the city make money or recover all of its expenses initially? No. The point, however, is that the old model of dumping those recyclable material in a landfill is no longer viable, Kokomo Mayor Greg Goodnight said.
“About a year and a half ago, the argument asked ‘does recycling allow you to break even, or does it pay for itself?’ Goodnight said. “I can guarantee you wholeheartedly that picking up trash doesn’t pay for itself.”
Does it pay to recycle?
Picking up the trash, in fact, costs the city around $1 million per year in landfill tipping fees, Goodnight said.
Goodnight hopes making the switch to a curbside recycling program in April will divert between 35 percent and 40 percent of the materials sent to landfills in its first year.
The city expects to dispose of 25,500 tons of trash by the end of 2013, Goodnight said, costing about $1 million in landfill tipping fees.