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Recycling Process

What Happens to my Recycling?

You're the first step in Surrey's recycling process. We first collect your single-family recycling or multi-family recycling.

Then, we transport your recyclable items to a recycling sorting facility, where they're sorted into separate commodity streams through an automated system. The sorting process uses different technologies like

  • material weights and densities,
  • lasers, and
  • magnets,

to separate the recyclables. The sorted recyclables are baled and marketed to various processors that convert the product back into raw materials  - these materials are then reprocessed into new recycled products.

Recycling process for each recyclable item

Learn what happens to each recyclable item after it reaches the recycling facility. See how your plastic bottle can later become part of a playground, your pop can recycled into rebar, and discover how your newspaper helps the construction industry.

Plastic bottles and jars

  1. Baled according to the plastic type and shredded into plastic flakes (pelletized).
  2. Depending on the original plastic, these flakes are used to manufacture different materials:
  • Pullover sweatshirts
  • Pillow stuffing
  • Carpet backing
  • Plastic lumber (playgrounds)
  • Blue boxes and compost bins
  • Consumer bottles
  • Ice scrapers
  • Industrial packing cases
  • Automotive battery cases.

Food and beverage cans

  1. Aluminum cans are crushed and then baled into a large block.
  2. The aluminum is melted down and reformed into more aluminum cans.
  3. Metal tins and cans are baled and then melted down to be turned into scrap metal, which can be used to make new steel/metal products, such as rebar.

Tetra Pak containers and milk cartons

Tetra Paks are made up of paper, aluminum lining, and a plastic coating.

  1. Each container is separated into different material types (hydro-pulped).
  2. This separated paper fibre is used in toilet tissue, cardboard boxes and other paper products.
  3. Gable top cartons are made only of paper and plastic. Each container is hydro-pulped, separated into paper and plastic. This high quality separated paper fibre is used to make industrial paper products.

Boxboard, mixed waste paper, newspaper, and cardboard

These materials are recycled separately, but using the same processing steps.

  1. The materials are hydro-pulped to break up the paper into separate fibres.
  2. Contaminants such as wire, plastic, string and globs of glue are screened out and the pulp is de-inked.
  3. The watery pulp is then sprayed onto flat wire screens and the water is drained from the pulp.
  4. Recycled fibres bond together as they move through a series of press rollers which squeeze out more water.
  5. The paper-resembling sheets are then pressed through heated metal rollers which dry the paper.
  6. The pulp from each material is then recycled in the following ways:
    • The pulp from boxboard is strong and used to make industrial paper products such as cardboard.
    • The pulp from mixed waste paper is used to make newsprint, magazines, writing paper, books etc.
    • The pulp from newspapers is used to make newsprint paper or used in making roof and felt paper for the construction industry.
    • The pulp from corrugated cardboard is used to make new cardboard products, paperboard, egg cartons etc.

To learn more about the recycling process, visit MMBC.

You can prevent many items from reaching landfills. Learn more about Surrey's waste collection program, and discover how many items you can actually reuse or recycle.

Recycling in Action

Want to know more? Wate MMBC's video below to see the recycling process in action!