Have you ever wondered what happens to all those recyclables you dump into your "Recycle One" bins after the trash collectors pick it up?

David Lupinski, Director of Recycling at the Oneida Herkimer Solid Waste Authority gave WIBX a tour of the facility to show how all that plastic, metal, glass, paper and cardboard is sorted.

In 2011 the Authority spent $10 million to upgrade their facility from a dual-stream system(that's when you had to separate paper from metal and glass into two different containers) to the new single-stream system known as "Recycle One."

First, all of the material is dumped into a hopper where it is then sent up a conveyer belt to be sorted.

The system uses state of the art machinery that begins with removing cardboard from the rest of the material, then paper, glass, plastic and finally metal are sorted out.

During the process which you can see in the video below, human "quality control" stations remove any cardboard and trash that may have made it through the sorting process. Lupinski says only about 5% of material is missed by the system.

Then all the separated material is bailed up to be sold to recycling facilities that turn it into new materials like polyester fabrics(from plastic) or even gravel for roads(from crushed glass) that is used at the facility's landfills.

Lupinski says approximately $3 million of the Authority's $28 million budget comes from the sale of recyclable materials, while the rest of their budget comes from the sale of village garbage bags and fees from haulers like Feher and Spohn.

He added that no part of the Authority's budget comes from taxpayers, that's why the village bags cost as much as they do - because while they might be worth $.50, the rest of the money goes to process your trash and recyclable material.

Finally, Lupinski wants to remind residents of Herkimer and Oneida Counties NOT to put plastic bags of any kind into your recyclable containers because when plastic bags enter the Authority's sorting machines, the bags get wrapped around the machinery causing major problems with their sorting operation.

He says every day during employees' scheduled breaks, crews have to shut down the machines and manually go in and remove plastic bags that are caught.

Lupinski says there's an easy alternative to throwing out plastic bags - bring them back to your grocery store. Every store in Herkimer and Oneida County is required by law to take back plastic bags from residents.

So the next time you come home from grocery shopping with a bunch of plastic bags, don't throw them out or toss them in your recycle bin, instead save them and bring them with you on your next shopping trip.

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