Reducing your household waste while helping the environment is two of the many reasons why recycling is an important ‘green’ practice. Fredericton Region Solid Waste operates a region-wide recycling program which brings in more than 5,800 tonnes of recyclable material per year.
There are four main components to FRSW’s recycling business including collection, sorting, baling and selling.
Recyclables are collected throughout the region in two ways. The first is through curbside pickup which is either weekly or monthly depending on the area. Residents sort their recyclables into either the blue bin (plastic and metal) or grey bin (paper products).
Once collected, the items are transported to the Recycle Building where the next process begins.
There are three separate sorting processes that take place with recyclables. The first sort occurs in homes across the region as people of all ages place items in the blue and grey bins or in the depots in their communities. Once the recyclables are picked up, the items are delivered to the Material Recovery Facility at FRSW. Trucks drop the material on the receiving floor of the building. Plastic and metal are pushed to one side with paper products going to the other. From there, recyclables are placed on a conveyor belt which leads to the sorting area. It’s here where as many as 8 people sort the items into categories ranging from plastics to tin cans to cardboard and milk cartons, among others.
Once enough of one particular item is collected, it’s pushed onto another conveyor belt which loads the pile into the baler machine. A baler is a piece of equipment that compresses the recyclables into a large rectangular cube called a bale. Each bale, depending on the material, weighs between 400-700 kilograms. Once the bales are created, they’re stacked in the warehouse waiting for sale.
A total of ten different products are made into bales at FRSW including cardboard, boxboard, milk cartons, plastic bags, mixed plastics (plastic items with numbers 1-7), Number 6 newsprint, steel cans, aluminum cans, hardpack (mix of cardboard, boxboard and newsprint) and white office paper.
These bales are sold to many different companies in Canada and the United States. Aluminum cans are recycled into many products such as cement, beverage cans and dishwashers. This recycled metal is also used in other types of items that many people would not think of such as makeup, chemicals, and furniture.
This recyclable is found in items such as packaging for frozen food, toothpaste, etc. Boxboard is recycled mainly into more boxboard. We sell most of our boxboard to companies in Southeast Asia and China.
We sell our bales of cardboard to a mill in New Brunswick. The mill uses the cardboard to make more cardboard products such as boxes. Cardboard can be recycled between 8-10 times.
This type of recyclable is made up of newspaper, cardboard and boxboard. We sell it to a company in Nova Scotia and they use it in winter to make insulation to keep your home warm and in the summer as hydroseed mulch to help your grass grow.
Milk cartons are baled together. The cartons are then shipped out to be processed into new milk cartons. This product is primarily sold to companies in Southeast Asia.
Plastics are used to make many things, but when we sell a bale of this plastic it’s used to primarily make something called injection mould plastic. That means that the plastic is melted and made into a different shape and used to make items such as the casing on your cordless phone at home. Some of the plastic has even been used to make railways ties which hold together railway tracks for trains. This type of plastic was also used in the Olympics in Beijing, China. Before the Olympics came to the city in 2008, Beijing needed to replace all of its old water pipes. We sold a lot of plastic to China. The plastic was then moulded into water pipes and put underneath the city to replace the old pipes. So some of the plastic that came from your home helped make the Olympics a success.
This is made up entirely of newspaper and sold to companies in Nova Scotia and Quebec. The newsprint is then made into things you see every day such as coffee cup holders, paper plates and egg cartons. Newsprint can be recycled up to four times.
These are made mostly from natural gas in places in the Southern United States called the Gulf Coast. We sell most of our bales of plastic bags to companies in China the US. The bags are made into new plastic bags.
Steel cans are sold to companies in two states – Michigan and Pennsylvania – and are melted down and made into new steel cans.
The type of paper in printers and used here at school when a teacher gives you a handout, it’s sold to a company in Quebec that turns it into tissue paper.