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Recycling Tour Makes a Big Impression

CCRx joined a group from the League of Chicago Theatres' Green Theatre Alliance in a tour of the Heartland Recycling Center, one of Lakeshore Recycling's Sorting facilities -- and it made a big impression!

LRS Sustainability Coordinator Natalie Grimaldi showed us a presentation about recycling and the materials and specific processes that separate them.

Then she guided our group through a maze of conveyor belts, AI Robots, magnets and air puffers -- seven miles in all! -- and showed us how the materials they collect for recycling are sorted and bundled.

We watched their team of pickers at various stations pulling out plastic bags, ropes and wires -- all things that get caught in the machinery and muck up the system.

Here's how it works (sort of : )

  1. Paper screen -- 2D vs. 3D materials

  2. Optical Screen -- Air puffs and people sort out plastic bags, films, squishy plastic

  3. Fiber Lines -- bale the cardboard

  4. Optical Screen -- for PET plastic

  5. MachineX SamurAI Robot -- picks out HDPE + Aseptic materials

  6. EDDY Current -- Beverage containers (glass, ferrous + non-ferrous)

  7. Residuals -- the leftovers are run through the process again to catch what was missed

  8. Quality Control

Then everything is baled and bundled and trucked to various processors throughout the region.

The new SamurAI Robot was fascinating!

Did you know ?

  • It is estimated that 75,000 tons are really recycled annually from Chicago.

  • Paper, Cardboard and Glass are the main recycled materials

  • 20% of what is brought in for recycling ends up in landfill -- the "residuals"

  • It's better to recycle aluminium foil flat instead of balled up

  • You can recycle plastic bags at Target, Mariano's and Jewel/Osco -- but not in your blue cart!

Are you interested in helping improve Recycling + Reuse in Chicagoland? We've got ideas! Contact us and get involved.

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