Materials Recovery Facility: Behind the Scenes
Most of Sonoma County’s single-stream recycling is sorted and baled for shipping at Recology’s Materials Recovery Facility in Santa Rosa.
The process starts when giant mounds of recycling are sorted daily in a process which incorporates both mechanical and human sorting. The first sort is done by hand where large pieces of cardboard, rigid plastics, garbage, and plastic bags are removed.
Next, the material is pushed up a large conveyor belt with a row of rods that contain series of offset lobes (similar to a cam shaft) which “float” the lighter material, such as paper, to an upper belt which feeds directly to the baler where paper and other fiber products are collected and prepared for shipping.
Beverage/food/household containers and smaller bits of paper fall through the first set of cams onto another belt. These are fed up a second incline conveyor containing a smaller set of offset lobes to capture the smaller pieces of paper. That belt feeds to a baler for processing.
The beverage/food/household containers which fall through to the container line pass under a strong magnet which removes all steel cans and other magnetic materials. Remaining plastic containers are sorted into different grades by hand, and an “eddy” current pushes aluminum cans into a collection hopper.
For this complex sorting process to operate efficiently, it is important to make sure the recyclables placed in your blue single-stream container are free of contamination and garbage.
If you would like a tour of the Materials Recovery Facility located at 3400 Standish Ave., Santa Rosa, call (800) 800-0291.