Thursday, April 7, 2011

What Happens to Plastic Milk Jugs

So, you and your family are sitting around the table. In the center is a box of cereal, and a jug of milk. When you and your family use up the milk in the jug, of course you take the plastic container and throw in the recycling bin.

Thus begins the milk jug's journey.

First, waste management and takes your recycling. The milk jug is then taken to a MRF (Materials Recovery Facility, pronounced "murf") , where it is scrushed into a bale with the others of it's type. Each bale can weigh up to 1,200 lbs.

From there, the jug is taken to a reclaimer. There, the bales are broken open, and the plastics are crushed, cleaned, and made into flakes. When all the plastics are made into flakes, they drop them into a flotation tank. Because some plastics are heavier than others, some float and some sink. Milk jugs, which are made of HDPE, float to the top. They are skimmed off, and melted down into spaghetti thin strands. The strands are then chopped into pellets, and shipped off to companies to be used as raw materials.

Milk jugs are not "recycled" per say. In that, I mean that they are not made into new jugs. Once they have been used for milk once, they are not suited to other food materials. Instead, they are made into certain types of shampoo/conditioner/soap bottles, bottles to hold cleaning products, building materials such as boards, pipes, fencing, and gutters. The jugs can be made into picnic tables, and there's even a bridge made of 68,000 milk jugs mixed with fiberglass, that is strong enough to hold a car. It is located in NY.

Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle Milk Jugs
What Is The Process Of Recycling Milk Jugs?
Where Does Your Recycled Bottle Go?

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