Your recyclables are then put on a conveyer belt to get sorted into different recycling categories such as paper, cardboard, plastic, steel, aluminium and glass.
It’s a big job and takes a combination of people power, those who manually sort items on a moving conveyer belts, and high-tech sorting machines.
Before your recycling hits the automated sorting machines, pre-sorters pick out items that aren’t recyclable. But they can’t pick out everything that doesn’t belong on the fast-moving conveyer belt. These items are called contaminants and include things such as soft plastics, recycling in plastic bags and clothing. Contaminants get caught up in the sorting machines and can be dangerous to employees.
Contaminants cause problems to those who buy our recycled paper, plastic and metal to make new products. A few plastic bags mixed into a pile of paper can mean the recycled paper can’t be used to produce new high-quality paper.
Getting to know your recycling will help you to keep the contaminants out of your recycling bin. See the top 5 things to keep out of your recycling bin.