What Happens To Our Recyclables?
Our recyclables make quite a journey before they actually get recycled. After putting a recyclable item in your City curbside bin, in a County drop-off bin, or in a mixed recycling bin on Purdue's campus, all those recyclables are brought to the transfer station at 2770 North 9th Street in Lafayette. All these recyclables are loaded in to a tractor trailer truck to be hauled out of town to a sorting facility. The cardboard and paper from the compactors at the transfer station have a shorter trip. They are taken to Werner Brothers Recycling in Frankfort and then sent to paper recycling mills in the Midwest.
Our mixed materials are hauled to a sorting facility in either Indianapolis or Muncie. If they are sent to Muncie, they go to a sorting facility called East Central Recycling. If the materials are sent to Indianapolis, that sorting facility is owned and operated by Republic Services. These sorting facilities, also called Material Recovery Facilities (or MRF for short), sort the mixed recyclables in to different categories using both machinery and people. The materials are sorted in to bales of mixed paper, corrugated cardboard, steel cans, aluminum cans, glass bottles and jars, plastic bottles (#1 plastic), and plastic jugs (#2 plastic). Non-recyclables and any materials contained in plastic bags are pulled off the line and sent to a landfill.
After getting sorted, the bales of materials are then sold to either a material-specific recycler, or a broker that will then store the materials and sell them to turn a profit. There are many recycling facilities in the Midwest and most of our materials are recycled within 500 miles of Central Indiana! Check out IDEM's Recycling Infrastructure Study to learn more about where Indiana recyclables end up!
Check out the slide show below to see photos from the Republic Services sorting facility in Indianapolis.