Ever wonder what happens from the moment you toss a pop bottle in a bin to the moment it’s crushed into a bale of recycling? There’s a lot of moving parts to the way recycling works in Clinton County, and while some changes may be coming up soon, recycling has been in place in Clinton in the current form since 1991.

Right now the recycling center at the Clinton County Area Solid Waste Agency employs three full-time employees and has anywhere from three to four morning part-time employees that help sort. The holiday season, the time around Christmas and New Year’s, is one of the busiest for the recycling center, especially as Amazon and other online retailers’ boxes pour in.

“When you’re doing eight bales of cardboard in one day, that’s a heck of a lot of boxes,” CCASWA Director of Operations and Education Brad Seward said. Those bales end up being around 1,200 to 1,400 pounds, and come in from all around the county. Seward said after a dip in the early 2000s “tonnage has picked back up” after the agency made a push for people to recycle glass containers. “We’re seeing a pretty steady amount form the area communities,” Seward said.

The recycling makes its way to the facility through either public or private waste management depending on where a household is in the county. The city of Clinton takes recycling from most houses in Clinton, while Seward said Allied Waste contracts with many of the other municipalities in the county.

When it comes in, it is mostly sorted into paper products, cardboard, and plastics/glass/metal, and from there, recycling center employees take over.

Seward said surprisingly things come well sorted, but there is manual sorting to be done as three to five part-time employees work two or three morning hours to sort plastics into the separate types, glass and metal containers.

When the recycling comes in, the plastics, glass and metal are put into a hopper before heading to the sorting line, while cardboard and paper take the same route but to a line that ends up squeezing and baling the materials.

Seward said as it is, their paper and cardboard products end up with a 1.5 to three percent residue rate or the percent of things that end up in the bales that shouldn’t be there, which he said means they get the full price for selling the bales.

To read the full story, visit http://www.clintonherald.com/news/sorting-through-the-future/article_0c6cdfde-d0f1-11e6-945e-639d7ee86439.html.