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Vail Daily column: What happens to my recycling?

Joseph Walls
Ask Waste Watchers
Vail, CO Colorado

What actually happens to all of the glass, paper, cardboard, plastic and cans that I am recycling? – Kelly in Wolcott

Thanks for asking, Kelly. You may find the answer very interesting. The more that Eagle County residents know about what becomes of the materials they recycle, the more likely they are to actively participate in recycling. If your area receives curbside recycling from Vail Honeywagon or if you are taking your recyclable materials to one of the seven drop-off centers around Eagle County, then the items are processed at the Materials Recovery Facility in Wolcott. The facility has 10 employees and has been in operation for a little over a year.

Below you will find a list of the most commonly recycled materials and what actually happens to them as of the writing of this article:

Glass: The glass that the facility receives is sent to the Rocky Mountain Bottling Company in Wheat Ridge, where it is processed and made into new bottles for the Coors Brewing Company.

Plastics: No. 1 or No. 2 plastic (see triangle with number in it on bottom of bottle) containers are transported to a broker in California called the Conti Group, which sells the plastic to mills in the Midwest that manufacture new plastic items. Recycled plastic is often made into carpet, polyester fleece, plastic pipe and motor oil containers.

Tin and steel: Tin and steel cans are sent to the Tuba City IMS mill in Granite City, Ill., to be made into aftermarket car parts and other metal materials.

Cardboard: Recycled cardboard is bundled and shipped to the International Paper mill in Valliant, Okla., where it is broken down and made into new cardboard boxes.

Mixed paper: The paper that the facility receives is called a mixed news collection. That means that magazines, newspapers, office paper and junk mail are all mixed together. The paper is sent to the Catalyst paper mill in Snowflake, Ariz., where the paper is broken down and made into tissue, paper towels and toilet paper.

Aluminum: The aluminum that the facility receives is currently being shipped to an Anheuser-Busch mill in Muscle Shoals, Ala., where it is melted down and made into new beer cans.

Jesse Masten co-wrote this article.

Joseph Walls is hazardous waste specialist at the Eagle County Household Hazardous Waste facility, located at the landfill in Wolcott. The facility is open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday. Call 970-328-3468 or visit http://www.eaglecounty.us/recyclingwaste for information.


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