The transformation of newspapers and shoe boxes begins in your recycling cart at the curb. After being dumped together into a truck, their first stop is Western Recycling, where they are pressed together with other recyclables into 1,200-pound cubes.
Since Boise's no-sort recycling program launched in June, Western Recycling has seen about a 40 percent increase in recyclable material, said plant manager Soron Root. The biggest problem so far? Residents don't seem to realize that glass still isn't accepted.
"The biggest deterrent is we're getting a lot of glass. We're ending up with glass on the floor, flat tires on fork lifts," Root said. "I realize everyone wants to recycle everything they can, but we have to do it the right way."
The bales are shipped to facilities in Tacoma, Wash., or Clackamas, Ore., where they are broken open.
The materials from the bale are put on inclined conveyor belts into several sorting devices.
Big things are separated from small. Newspapers are pushed to one side, plastic to another. At the end of the line, containers with magnets pull the "tin" cans out, and an electrical current pushes the aluminum away so it falls off onto another conveyor belt.
"Everything that comes off the conveyor, in theory, is plastic," Root said.
"Unfortunately," he said, "the quality of material you get has some contamination - with your cardboard you're going to have some junk mail. A tin can with a yogurt container in it may end up with the tin."
With other cities in the Treasure Valley looking into no-sort recycling, Western Recycling is considering buying land to build its own sorting facility, Root said.
"We would probably almost double our size," he said.
Boise residents have adapted quickly and easily to the new trash program, said Department of Public Works spokesman Vince Trimboli.
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