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Monday, December 24, 2012 | Latest audio lessons → VOA Learning English

Recycling Plastic

The recycle bin is often the last stop for empty containers. But it also can mark the beginning of a long trip.

YEHENEW GEDSHEW: "As long as people keep throwing their trash, we've got a job." Yehenew Gedshew directs a recycling center near Washington, DC.

YEHENEW GEDSHEW: "We do about 35 tons of material an hour." How does the center process so much waste?

YEHENEW GEDSHEW: "First what happens is the dump trucks bring the materials to our site; and they dump it on the tipping floor. It goes to the first screen where the cardboard and the rest of material is sorted out." The glass is crushed. Objects made of plastic are sorted and flattened.

YEHENEW GEDSHEW: "This is a very sophisticated sorting machine. And that belt brings it down to the bunker, and the plastic goes to the bunker, from the bunker we put it to the baler, and it gets baled and it gets shipped out." This recycling center separates all kinds of plastic, papers and glass.

YEHENEW GEDSHEW: "Since they don't have to sort out their recycles any more, it has made their lives very easy. They throw everything in a ball and then we sort everything out here." Most of the plastics are taken to a processing center in North Carolina. It is there that old bottles become mountains of plastic -- ready to melt and make into something new. We will take you to the North Carolina recycling center in another report.