The cycle of life: A look at the process to get recyclable bottles back to stores

Bottles visit several facilities

SOUTHFIELD, Mich. – Recyclables have a long way to go before they start a new life and return to stores again.

Recycled items head to a recycling facility, such as Resource Recovery and Recycling Authority of Southwest Oakland County in Southfield, one of the largest facilities in Michigan.

When the recyclables arrive at the facility, they are sorted and separated.

General Manager Mike Csapo said items in trash bags won't be opened and will instead to into the garbage.

MORE: Which items should be recycled and which should be thrown away?

Csapo said just over 300 tons of items are processed a day.

The sorted materials are compacted into large bales and loaded into trucks. Plastic typically heads to Clean Tech in Dundee, where the material will be made into a product that is sold to companies to be used to make new items.

Clean Tech processes about 400,000 pounds of plastic a day.

When the plastic arrives at the facility, it is sorted by color and chemical properties. It is then shredded, ground, washed and dried. After, the plastic is heated and transformed into a pellet.

The pellets are then used by companies to create new bottles and containers.

About the Authors: