EAGLE RIVER - Once a week you probably leave a recycling bin at the end of your driveway. But what actually happens to that paper, cardboard, and bottles after a truck picks it up?
Eagle Waste and Recycling in Eagle River gets recyclables from all over the northern half of Wisconsin and even the U.P.
"As far north as Marquette, Michigan, as far east as Menominee, Michigan, from Chippewa Falls Wisconsin to the west and Wausau to the south," said Eagle Waste and Recycling President Alan Albee.
The facility opened in 2012 and has been growing ever since.
Albee showed us how recyclables are sorted and packed to be shipped off and made into new products.
Recyclables are unloaded from a truck.
Then they are loaded into basin called a metering drum and then unloaded onto a conveyor belt.
Workers start pre-sorting.
"Our pre-sort allows us to clean the material up prior to going into our main sorting building," said Albee.
Then the belt runs into another building where it is sorted further.
"And then the first thing that we pull out is glass," said Albee.
Big cardboard items are sorted out through a filter. Then paper is separated from plastic and metals.
"Metal is sorted by use of a magnet; aluminum is sorted automatically by the use of an eddy current," said Albee.
Workers separate the different kinds of plastic, then items drop into a baler and are made into bricks.
"The finished products are sent all over the country depending on what the material is. Paper and cardboard are shipped locally to paper mills in Wisconsin Rapids or over by Green Bay," said Albee.
It's the only facility of its kind in the Northwoods, and one of the only ones in Wisconsin.
Right now Eagle Waste and Recycling has two balers. They will be getting a third one this summer to pack cardboard.