Sorting It Out
Author: Claire Grant
What happens to your recycling after it's collected from your kerbside? Councils around the country are lifting the lid on the contents of residents' recycling bins with tours of Material Recovery Facilities for Planet Ark's National Recycling Week (10th - 16th November).
Recycling at home in Australia is pretty simple. Most of us just drop our recyclable packaging into our yellow-lidded (or equivalent coloured) bin then put it out on the street and forget about it.
But that's when recycling gets interesting. Trucks collect your recycling and take it to a material recovery facility (MRF) where people and machines separate it out into its different materials ready for recycling.
The first part of the sorting is done by people who try to pick out the items that shouldn't be there - especially plastic bags. Then giant fans are used to send the paper into a collection area, magnets pick up the steel, eddy currents make the aluminium jump into a collection area and beams of light and high pressure air jets are used to separate the different types of plastic.
Check out our 'Sorting Your Recycling video' for a virtual overview of a material recovery facility:
Find an Event
Lots of councils around the country are offering tours of MRFs during National Recycling Week as a way to encourage residents to recycle right, to increase recycling rates and to reduce materials going to landfill.
Some of the tours happening include:
- Melton in Victoria
- Stirling in WA
- Maroondah in Victoria
- Tuncurry in NSW
- Waverley in NSW
- And more ...
The tours are normally free though bookings are often essential. Many facilities have education areas and viewing rooms to give visitors a clear look at what's going on.
To find out if your council is running a tour visit the National Recycling Week website ‘Find an Event' section. You can also find other National Recycling Week events, recycling information and videos on the site.