Oct 1, 2018
Closing the loop and using recycled material rather than virgin materials to make new products is proven to reduce our impact on the environment by reducing resource use, reducing energy and water use, and by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Denver residents that recycle using their purple carts and purchase materials made with recycled-content are directly involved in closing the loop, but it’s important to note that Denver residents must also take responsibility for keeping this process moving smoothly by only placing acceptable materials in their purple carts.
Recyclables placed in Denver’s purple recycle carts are collected by Denver Solid Waste Management trucks and transported to Denver’s material recovery facility (or “MRF” for short) for processing. At the MRF, the recyclable materials are sorted into like items, and then compacted into large cubes, called bales, that are loaded onto trucks and trains for transportation to manufacturing facilities where new products are made from recycled materials.
Sorting the recyclables from your purple carts isn’t an easy job. Denver’s MRF uses a combination of heavy equipment, conveyor belts, screens, robots, magnets, and people to make this possible. The sorting equipment at the MRF is designed to handle a large volume of acceptable materials. However, even small quantities of materials not accepted in Denver’s recycling program can damage the equipment at the MRF and slow the process down. While all contaminants are problematic and costly to remove, certain items rise to the top of the “keep these out of your purple cart” list.
The top four items to keep out of your purple cart include:
· Bagged Recyclables. Only loose recyclables can be sorted at the MRF. Placing recyclables inside plastic bags could result in the entire bag being thrown out. The best option is to keep plastic bags out of purple carts entirely.
· Plastic Bags or Film. Just as bagged recyclables are a problem for a MRF, the MRF also cannot handle loose plastic bags or other plastic films. For bags that can’t be avoided in the first place, consider taking these bags and films back to the grocery store instead. The group, Plastic Film Recycling, maintains a list of plastic film drop-off centers across the country: https://www.plasticfilmrecycling.org/.
· Scrap Metal. The only metal items accepted in Denver’s purple carts are steel cans, and aluminum cans, trays, pie tins and foil. All other metal items are considered scrap metal and should be kept out of purple carts. A list of local scrap metal recyclers is included in the Denver Recycles’ online Recycling Directory.
· Tanglers. Cords, hoses and chains are never accepted in purple carts and can cause damage to sorting equipment that is both costly and time-consuming to repair. Remember to keep these out of your purple cart!