A tour of Peel’s recycling facility

Ever wonder why we ask you to keep your recyclables
loose, empty your containers and make sure items like plastic bottles go into your recycling? Let’s take a look at how we process recyclable
items. In Peel you don’t have to sort and separate
your recyclables. You can put paper, plastics, metal and glass loose into one bin: your recycling
bin. We collect your recycling from your homes
and schools and bring them to our Material Recovery Facility in Brampton. This is one
of the largest recovery facilities in Ontario. It receives almost 110 loads of recycling
items every collection day! Here we sort recyclables into different types
because different re-manufacturers need different materials to make new items. That’s why we
separate different items like paper, steel, aluminum and plastic and group the same items
together. Sorters and machines separate items based
on their shape, weight and size. Paper and cardboard are thin and light, but cans and
bottles are heavy and bulky. You’ll see how this works when we explain
what happens to the recyclables, we collect from you.
The sorting and separating process starts at the tipping floor. The trucks offload the
collected items onto the floor, then a front loader pushes them to a conveyor belt. The
items on this conveyor belt are called “Feedstock” Sorters who work on the line remove unacceptable,
contaminated and hazardous items from the belt by hand, then put them in separate containers
and send it to landfill. Bag breaking machines release items tied in clear plastic bags.
These machines break the bags open and send the bag’s contents back onto the conveyor
belt for sorting. Sorters remove large plastic containers or
jugs from the conveyor belt by hand and put them into large storage bunkers. The recyclable
items left on the belt carry on to the spinning disc screens.
Here spinning discs separate big pieces of cardboard from other recyclables. Heavy or
smaller materials fall through the discs while the cardboard “rides” on top and into a storage
bunker. A second screen then separates recyclable paper and sends it to a different sorting
line for a quality check. Contaminated paper items are removed by hand before the rest
of the recovered paper goes to storage bunkers. Next is the V-screen separator. The V-screen
removes small pieces of cardboard and paper and redirects them to where other recyclable
paper is being sorted. Heavier items like cans, jars, bottles and milk and juice boxes
are transported up the screen to the next conveyor belt.
Now the only items left on the conveyor belt are milk and juice boxes, plastics, glass
and metals. The glass passes through a series of screens for sorting, then it’s directed
to a storage bunker for just glass. A large magnet drum draws spray cans and other
steel containers and puts them in their own bunker.
An optical scanner separates milk, juice boxes and other plastics. When the scanner senses
these items, it knocks them onto their own belt that leads to a storage bunker. This
is done using puffs of air. The materials left over are then sorted by
machine or by hand and are directed to a separate bunker.
The final sorting step is the eddy current. As the last of the materials passes through,
a magnetic field pops recyclables made of aluminum from the conveyor into a separate
bunker. Once a storage bunker is full, its contents
are dumped onto another conveyor. This conveyor line takes them to baling, the final processing
stage. During baling, materials move through a conveyor
belt into the baler machines. The baler machines squeeze the materials into bales and fasten
them together. The bales are temporarily stored on the plant floor, before they are shipped
to re-manufacturers to be used to make new items.
So as you’ve seen, recycling right and putting recyclables in your blue bin goes a long way.
To learn more about the items that go in your recycling bin visit peelregion.ca/waste.

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