What Happens to Your Recycling After It’s Collected? | NowThis


What actually happens to the stuff you put
in the recycling bin? I’ve always been curious, so I decided to
collect the recycling from our office and bring it to a recycling plant to find out. Follow me – we’re going to find out the life
of our recyclables as they go to a recycling plant. When I got to Sims recycling plant in Brooklyn,
I found a huge warehouse where 800 tons of recyclables from all over
New York are dropped off by barge and truck every day. The plant was built in 2013 and it is state-of-the-art. It handles materials like:
metals, glass, and hard plastics. And after those materials are dropped off,
they’re sorted. So we take all of those unsorted recyclables
and we’re pushing it through our processing system which is almost all automatic. It’s about two and a half miles worth of conveyor
belts, magnets, cameras all sorts of other machines dedicated to just sorting out different materials. The sorting machine is very high-tech
and sorts 14 kinds of materials, like glass, aluminum, cartons, and different
types of plastic. Once enough of a material is collected,
it’s compressed into a 1,000 to 1,500 pound block called a bale. After the bales are sorted, they’re sold to 3rd party companies. For example, a bale of aluminum might sell
for $800. Buyers then take the raw material, clean and
process it, and turn it into something new. This process saves way more energy than mining
for virgin materials. With the same amount of energy that it takes
to make 1 can of new aluminum, you can make 20 cans from recycled aluminum. And using one ton of recycled plastic saves
16 barrels of oil. You have to think about all this stuff as
coming from the earth. Right, there’s natural resources, oil in all of these plastics, and
once you put it in the trash, it’s going to a landfill or it’s going to an incinerator,
you’re never going to use that material again. So it’s super important we’ve got limited
resources on this planet, to use these kinds of materials as much as we can in the best
way as possible. Despite the great set-up at Sims
there are still a lot of issues with recycling. First of all, Americans kind of suck at it. According to the EPA, about 75% of all our
waste is actually recyclable. Yet, our recycling rates hang around 34%,
nationally. That basically means that only a third of
every single thing we use and throw out every day is making it to the recycling bin. And don’t get me started with New Yorkers.
We only recycle 17% of our waste. This is a garbage can right outside of our
office and you can see there’s paper and there’s some cans in there, cups. All of these thing are recyclable and they’re
in the trash, right when there’s a recycling bin right next door. Only about 50% of recyclables in New
York City are getting recycled right now. And I think that’s largely a result of maybe
a lack of public education. The fact that the rules have changed over
time. Maybe some people just don’t care enough or
don’t know why they should care. And I think all of those kind of issues can
really be addressed through education. For their part, Sims offers daily educational
tours of their plant, in an effort to boost our low recycling rates. Low rates aren’t the only issue though.
Sam also told me about another problem called ‘wish-cycling’. That’s when people put trash into the recycling bin, hoping it can be recycled when, in fact,
it can not. I would say it’s about 10%-13% of what we
get is not something we want to receive. Those kinds of materials are extra plastic
bags, plastic film, maybe little bits of food scraps mixed in with those containers. Wish-cycling wastes a lot of energy and fuel
because items are shipped to a plant like Sims sorted, and then eventually just sent
to the dump. I wanted to see if my coworkers and I were
guilty of any wish-cycling so I convinced Sam to go through our bag with
me. We’re not wearing gloves because, is that okay with you? Yeah, we do this every day, this is fine. By looking through our bag,
I learned we made some mistakes. Like putting paper towels in the recycling
bin. They’re actually compostable. He also told me important tips,
like cutting down on plastic straws. A lot of sort of single use disposables that
are really small, it’s better to use less of these then to even
try to recycle them because a lot of small plastics sort of fall through the cracks in the system. Reduce. Exactly. Sam told me that another huge misconception
about recycling are plastic bags. We get about 18 tons of plastic bags here
every day, ideally we would be getting nothing. Plastic bags are a low quality kind of plastic,
which makes them really hard to resell. For example, in SIMS case, they actually have
to pay another company to to come to pick up the bags and recycle them elsewhere. On top of that, the bags get stuck in the
machine and can break it. So if you want to recycle your plastic shopping
bags, go to a plastic bag drop-off at a retailer
like Whole Foods. Or better yet, skip the plastic bag all together
and bring a reusable bag. It’s important to note that every city is
different so look up what your city’s recycling plant accepts. Sims is one of the most inclusive recycling
plants on the East coast and accepts more materials than many recycling plants.
But Sam told me to abide by the general rule, ‘If it’s a hard plastic, put it in the
recycling bin’. Seeing the 800 tons of recyclables at SIMs
was insane. But that’s nothing compared to the 12,000
tons of trash residents of New York City throw out every day. I know seeing that made me more conscious
of what I use every day and inspired me to cut down on single-use plastics. But let’s be real, plastic is still a part
of our everyday lives and it’s hard to avoid it completely. However, I’ve realized we can have a say
in where it ends up, and while we’re at it, help our environment and create a more
sustainable future.

100 thoughts on “What Happens to Your Recycling After It’s Collected? | NowThis

  1. Yep, Germany is in the lead, including Austria, South Korea, and Singapore with their recycling practices. It really is NOT hard to do we just have to EDUCATE and make thus a daily habit.

  2. My ability to recycle and the reactions of others depended on where I was and who I was around; when I'm usually around men (various ages over 25, usually blue collar like me) they scoff or laugh at my attempt to do so, which is discouraging. More white collar individuals and women across the board are usually more supportive. I live and was born in CT, but lived in the deep South for awhile, and unless you take beer cans to a junkyard to sell for money, talking about the environment or recycling in any way for the benefit of the community usually gets you ridiculed and laughed out of the room. In general, less educated people seem to be dismissive of it.

    For example, our company wastes a lot of paper printing work orders for our plant and i save the sheets to use as scrap papers for us to take notes on as we carry out repairs and such. So far, despite people somewhat agreeing with what I do as being useful, nobody has done it. We can do so much better!

  3. The us is so far behind bc the gov here is reluctant to incentivise recycling financially(deposits). Bc we have so much space and so much lobbying and big business rules everything the public and therefore gov is slow to see the need to protect environment. Typically smaller countries care more about environment. They don't have as much space to take for granted!!! Stop the corporate driven madness!!!! Vote vote vote vote

  4. Yes, this is great information and I appreciate the educational aspects in this… but, I’m focused on the fact that the presenter is very cute.

  5. This video didn't mention the fact that a significant amount of material that goes to be recycled ends up being incinerated.

  6. So,,,a sorting facility.
    Great now which Asian countries will end up bury or burning it?
    Make a end product other than cubes
    Unless you sort perfect, most is in landfill in Asia
    Open ones near water with wind rain and ultra poor sorting through the contaminated bails you fools send

  7. Great message….but I fear the people coming to watch these kinds of videos already care about the environment and already recycle. The trick is to get the message to those apathetic, lazy or uninformed citizens. Not knowing that recycling is important is like a smoker saying they didn't know cigarettes were bad for you. It's 2019 and everybody should know: don't smoke and recycle responsibly.

  8. This is great. Now where exactly does the sorted plastic go? What percentage actually gets recycled and how much gets buried or burned?

  9. Industrial waste is a far larger problem versus curb side pick up. There is no regulatory body controlling the waste products of manufacturing in most countries. Rarely offenses are caught, even so a giant corporation may get a small fine as a result. Unstoppable toxic waste continues into Earth's lands and oceans. In many cases waste is shipped to 3rd world counties to be disposed of. Earth's human population and human needs have spiraled out of control. There is no way to stop it now and there is no turning back. Human beings on Earth are now entering the final stage of our modern existence. It is a harsh reality to know and understand, we are just a few generations from global catastrophe. What can we do to avoid this train wreck?

  10. Originally saw this on Snapchat, but I came here hoping I could find out the name of the song. Anybody know?

  11. I thought you're suppose to do the following before throwing it in the bin 1) clean out our plastic 2) remove bottle caps

  12. But if something is contaminated with oil and food but it says recyclable on the packaging can I recycle it?

  13. Lack of recycling is largely due to a lack of incentive followed by lack of knowledge, convenience and community involvement.

  14. They didn't expand enough on wishful recycling. I recall a conversation with a sanitation worker whom told me that cans of food that are not rinsed properly end up in landfills. A scrap of food can ruin a vat of raw material. I always see my neighbors recyclables with tins that have food in them, cat/dog food cans with pet food remaining, and glass bottles with food contents in them. That stuff never gets processed.

  15. The unsalvageable plastics get sent to Southeast Asian countries to be incinerated. So plz plz throw away your recycling waste responsibly.

  16. Well, I was hoping to see "what happens to your recycling after it's collected," but they stopped at step 2- sorting. It was still a good video, just mistitled.

  17. Ask the public to do it is a lost cause, it must be done by laws, tax and culture change. Laws in banning plastic bags, straws, more green bins around public side walks, banning landfills, more recycling centers. Taxing companies for more waste they produce, taxing consumers on none recyclables and educating the public in schools, public transport, airports, work places, advertising, billboards, internet.

  18. Just saw this video today and have to say that we really have a lack of education about this topic. Tks for the video!

  19. Sounds good! But let’s see, my trash bill has more than doubled, They use to pick up 2 days a week, now it’s 1 day a week and if I go to recycle my plastic, they will only give me what I paid for the first 50 bottles the rest of my plastic I get way less than what I was forced to pay for it. I get nothing back for my recycling efforts other than to make someone else rich off this multi-billion dollar industry. I know, I am helping the environment!

  20. yes the civilized USA America refused to spent money to recycle plastic waste. cheaper to send (sell) USD 40 (before USD 300) per ton of plastic waste to dumb country like China Vietnam and Indonesia. watch video PLASTIC CHINA. thanks a lot!

  21. All of you crazy environmentalists are focusing on the details of what to collect and what container to put it in. Then it is sorted at a facility into different types of recyclables.. Then it is almost all dumped in the landfill as no one is buying recyclables

  22. Around here, Nothing. It goes into Recycling bin, goes into truck. then Truck goes to Landfill. Its actually Sad. I did a Ride along on a Recycling Truck. Even the Driver doesnt know why they have Recycling bins anymore if it goes right to landfill. He been driving since they Started to do the Recycling stuff. He told me, it all goes to the Landfill still. As long as they have Recycling bins and trucks to pick it up. doesnt matter where it goes. it only matters to the state that they have the bins and trucks and the Garbage company gets bit more Money and tax relief.

  23. The problem with recycling is that manufacturers do not like to use recycled product so now you have all this materials sitting around causing more pollution. Recycled products are also more expensive because it cost more to make so consumers end up buying the new, better and cheaper product.
    I wish people could pollute less by NOT recycling.

  24. That’s how I was but everybody made fun of me when I managed the MALL IN MARBLE HILL in The Bronx I was going ham but nobody believed me

  25. If recycling saves so much energy compared to processing raw material why are we shipping all these "recyclable" material to East Asia countries?

  26. Lack of public awareness is definitely a large problem in 'wish-cycling'. Dunno how it is in the States but here in Scotland (possibly the EU) there are symbols used to indicate which plastics can and cannot be recycled widely, but they're still absent from a lot of plastic products. And sometimes it will say 'ask your local council', obviously very few people are gonna bother contacting their council to find out whether or not the product packaging they might buy once a month can be recycled or not.

  27. After it's collected or also, after you bring it in. Because it's not every neighborhood that has the truck pick up system. In some neighborhood you need to bring it to a transfer station yourself.

  28. An overlooked issue is lobbying from “Big Trash”. Most counties in the US provide recycling service but not trash. Big trash is lobbying counties to stop that to get more service for themselves. Keep an eye on your local districts and be aware of who’s in your politicians pockets.

  29. My city doesn’t even have recycling bins in the street only trash bins. To recycle you have to do it either in a public establishment if they have one or in your home.

  30. This is why bottle return is so important. It gives incentive to the people who participate, and gets materials reused.

  31. We live in N. Texas where our city also has a similar advanced sorting facility (don't call them recycling, they only sort), and I exchanged a few emails with the person at waste mgt for the city, and told me similar things. Issues with people 'wish-cycling' I think she also called "aspirational recycling" where people put non-recyclable items into the recycle bin. Another big problem is dirty recyclables placed in the bin – they need to be clean to be recycled. She also mentioned that middle states tend to use domestic recyclers, but coastal states would export, but we of course know that China and other SE Asian countries are now refusing to accept our exported recyclables because they are overcapacity, and they are often low quality or dirty thus harder to recycle.
    Our family focuses on the refuse side of the cycle, so yeah we could all just be great at sorting our recyclables, but it's more effective to just not buy them in the first place. In addition to using reusable shopping bags (even using reusable produce bags), containers for bulk foods, and foods that come in either cardboard or glass, or meats/fish from the butcher section wrapped in paper instead of plastics, refusing straws (as in the video, they don't get recycled) and plastic ware (we carry our own stainless steel large boba size straws, and utensil sets and stainless water bottles when we go out). It's amazing how little real trash we accumulate for our family of three plus an elderly parent in our household. It's all packaging, so when you can avoid it, it drastically reduces the total amount of rubbish. Food scraps are composted in our back yard.
    Anyhow, we don't care if haters use the argument that it doesn't make a difference b/c it's on a small scale – who cares? We know we're doing the right thing, and not waiting for governments to get their act together to do then do the right thing, which seems to be the contrarian argument.

  32. not being rude but i care for the planet if you really cared about the planet you wouldn't be asking for money for reusable objects.can we all just work together for free and take care of the bigger issue? cough cough…. high CO2 cause by humans interaction with the environment.

  33. this is so sad that they do that. three big recycling bins there and they drop them in the trach when the Government band Plastic bottles they complain that your fault use the Recycling bins provided

  34. this is so sad that they do that. three big recycling bins there and they drop them in the trach when the Government band Plastic bottles they complain that your fault use the Recycling bins provided

  35. I work at recycling its surprising how much money I find sometimes while I'm picking its a bit unusual I wonder how that's happens

  36. I know how the usa could cut recycled products in half IF not more. when I was young I would hunt for coke bottles and turn them in, I think I got a nickel or dime for each bottle. I think it was late 80's or early 90's people was looking through trash cans walking roads looking for aluminum cans to sale back but the government STOP all that, bring that type of payment back. now the government act like the goodwill stores, bring it to use for free in turn we sale it and make millions,

  37. Disgusting concider this. Diaper pale squirt bottle reuse or make antivirus antibacterial. Wipe YOU. Place in pale lined

  38. Too much work for no money plus it dont bring the cost down on the stuff I buy sound like just free money for the rich

  39. She looks so enthusiastic about recycling as if that single thing solved everything. The main problem is that our existence is the biggest harm to nature. Modern comforts are unsustainable. These problems will be even worse in the future. Don't get me wrong, I recicle, go by bicicle and use public transport but I know that human nature is selfish and doesn't care about the planet and everything in it. No one gives up heat in winter, AC in summer, cars, unnecessary shopping… there's no going back. Evolution made a mistake with intelligence.

  40. Where can I recycle used pens and markers? Once the ink runs out and can't be replaced it's plastic with some other materials so where is the best place for me to recycle them instead of just throwing it out in the trash?

  41. NOT ALL WHOLE FOODS TAKE PLASTIC BAGS! I DONT CARE WHAT THEIR WEBSITE SAYS! It really depends on the store. I know Food Lion and Harris Teeter also recycle soft plastic. But always make sure your specific store will do it or not. PLEASE!

  42. You completely wrong just because you put it in the recycling bin in a separate truck picks it up then the trash truck doesn't mean ends up in the recycling plant most the time it ends up in the same place as the garbage trust me I'm a Trashman

  43. Here is the deal, for every invention we humans invented, there will always be more negative effects in the long term… even with the invention of recycling itself. It's a vicious cycle. Not only plastics, but every single other materials invented in a laboratory by man.

  44. 4:34 Plastic, especially plastic bags often end up in illegal, unregulated dump sites in Malaysia because of this. Companies will cut costs by sending plastic waste to Asia, which is dumped or burned near towns and lakes and makes more pollution. This is why I use cloth bags as much as possible.

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