Here workers do what is called presorting, which is basically identifying things that do not belong in the recycling waste stream. They pull out items that don't belong, such as pots and pans, chains, and garbage that should go to a landfill or incinerator. Plastic bags, which can be recycled at supermarkets, are a problem in particular because they can gum up the operation and stop the conveyor belts.
Recyclers sell their material to mills, which use paper or plastic as a "feedstock" for new products. If there are too many contaminants, a batch from a recycler can be rejected.
January 24, 2011 4:00 AM PST
Photo by: Martin LaMonica/CNET
| Caption by: Martin LaMonica
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