How does recycling work?

Read the full story in Mashable.

You probably have no idea how recycling works.

Most Americans — who recycle nearly 87 million tons of waste each year — likely think that the plastic and paper thrown into those special blue bins gets sorted by some nebulous government agency and automatically becomes an environmentally-friendly product.

But that’s not how it works. Recycling, first and foremost, is a business.

When recycled goods get picked up by the state’s waste management corporation, they are taken to a Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) where everything is separated and packaged up to be sent to another facility where it’s processed depending on the material.

For example, paper is processed at a mill where it is turned into pulp to be repurposed.

But in order for the recyclable material to get to its proper sorting center, someone has to buy it first.

And that’s where we have a problem.

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