Everyday, millions of Americans participate in local recycling programs to do their part in preserving our environment and preventing our landfills from overflowing. Two of the most commonly recycled items are polypropylene plastic water bottles and yogurt cups, and if you’ve ever wondered what happens to these items once they go in the recycle bin, this article is for you. KW Plastics is the world’s largest plastics recycler, and today, we’ll follow a plastic bottle and water cup on their journey through the recycling process. Read on to learn more!

Step 1: The Recycling Bin

Placing your plastic bottle or yogurt cup in the recycling bin is an essential first step in the recycling process. Recyclable items may be placed in residential curbside recycling bins or commercial bins that are located in shopping centers, businesses, and offices. Regardless of which recycling bin they are placed in, these bins play a very important role in this initial phase of the five-step recycling process!

Step 2: Sorting

Once the recyclable items are collected by your local waste management, the bottles and yogurt cups are taken to a Material Recovery Facility, or MRF. Here, items are hand checked first to remove items like plastic bags and textiles. Next, recycled items are separated into similar materials with the assistance of compressed air, magnets, and infrared technology. Once separated, the materials are crushed and compacted into large bales.

Step 3: Transport

After the sorting process is complete, the compacted bales must be transported to plastic recycling facilities. Wiley Sanders Truck Lines is affiliated with KW Plastics and is one of America’s leading haulers of plastics, including polypropylene. KW Plastics and Wiley Sanders Truck Lines work closely to provide a closed loop solution, seamless logistics, and a strong network of resources in this important third step of the process.

Step 4: Washing, Drying, and Shredding

To prepare them for the final phase of the manufacturing process, polypropylene plastic scraps like bottles and yogurt cups must be thoroughly washed to remove any possible contaminants from the material. This is an essential step to ensure that the resins that are produced from the recycled plastic are as clean as possible. In addition to washing, the bottles and cups will be dried and shredded to prepare them for the final step in their journey.

Step 5: Melting and Extrusion

Polypropylene bottles and cups are melted down under highly-regulated and specific temperatures. Once melted down, the plastic is transformed into tiny pellets or granules. Many things can be manufactured from these resin pellets, including consumer goods such as mixing bowls, cutting boards, watering cans, battery cases, and storage bins. KW Plastics is proud to manufacture our TruSnap™ containers for our sister company, KW Container, from recycled polypropylene resin for an innovative and sustainable manufacturing solution.

Upon initial consideration, it may not seem like a plastic bottle or yogurt cup serves much purpose beyond that which they were intended for. However, once they have served their initial purpose and have been recycled, these items can be transformed into other items as a sustainable manufacturing option. To learn more about the other resins we buy, contact our purchasing department to learn more!