Where Do Your Recyclables Go

Okay, you’ve done your part and put your recyclables in your orange and blue recycle bins. Now what? Where does that material go?

After leaving your home, all materials collected in your curbside recycling bins are delivered to Alachua County’s Material Recovery Facility, located off Waldo Road. At the Material Recovery Facility, contaminates (non-recyclable items) get sorted out, and then the material gets sorted into their primary groups, such as glass, steel cans, and cardboard. The separated materials then get baled and placed on trucks for shipment to secondary processors and manufacturers so they can be used to make new products.

map of eastern united states with arrows showing what cities recyclables materials end up at

While the end markets are subject to change, below is a list of where the various recycled materials go, and their end uses:

 icon of a cardboard box Cardboard: Bales of recycled cardboard are sent to International Paper’s mill in Pine Hill, Alabama, or the WestRock’s Seminole Mill in Jacksonville, Florida, where the material is used as backing in the making of new cardboard boxes.
 icon of piece of paper Mixed Paper: Newspaper, pasteboard boxes, and other residential papers get shipped off to Greif’s Sweetwater Paper Board Corporation in Austell, Georgia. At this paper mill, the paper is reprocessed for protective packaging uses.
 icon of aluminum cans Aluminum Cans: Get sent to the Constellium Aluminium Manufacturing Plant in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, where they get smelted into sheets for the packaging industry to make new beverage containers.
 icon of a steel can Steel Cans: Are sent off to Chicago, Illinois, where National Materials Processing melts down recycled steel containers to prepare the material for making new food cans, as well as rebar for construction projects.
 icon of plastic water bottle Plastic (PET): Recycled water bottles can go to Clear Path Recycling in Fayetteville, North Carolina, or Mohawk Industries in Summerville, Georgia. The recycled bottles are converted into plastic flakes that can be used to make new products, such as carpeting and clothing.
 icon of plastic milk jug Plastics (HDPE): Your natural and colored plastic containers get recycled at Blue Ridge Industries in Eden, North Carolina, where they are made into plastic flakes and pellets to manufacture pipes and plastic lumber. HDPE Plastics are also shipped to Unifi in Reidsville, North Carolina, where they are used to make new paint containers and molds for plastic toys and trash cans.
 icon of a glass bottle Glass: Glass bottles are recycled at Strategic Materials Inc. in Sarasota, Florida, where they are reprocessed to make glass containers, fiberglass, highway bead, paint filters, glass abrasives, and specialty glass for decorations.