IBM has recently calculated that by 2050, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish. Some think the claim is, literally, garbage. Does anyone truly know how many fish are in the sea? We can all agree that we’ve made great strides over this last decade to make recycling easier for consumers and more beneficial for industries.

Single-stream recycling enables consumers to toss all relevant recyclables into one container. Glass, aluminum, plastic, paper, and cardboard can co-mingle and prepare to go to a much better place than in the packed, local landfill. Haulers pick up the materials and drop them off at our Material Recycling Facility, where they start their new journey. After initial hand-sorting, the pieces go through a high-tech conveyor system that moves materials through stations for efficient sorting. The cohesive technology uses optical material identification, magnetism, and forced air for segregation. If you watch the end of the process, you can even witness aluminum cans jumping off the conveyor into their unique bin, thanks to the application of an electrical current. With innovation, automation, and even electrical current, recycling looks very different today.

Thanks to effective and efficient processing, materials can be swiftly compacted together, bound, stacked, and stored. But the 1300-pound bundles don’t stay idle for long. The professional commodity brokers at Midwest Fiber Recycling have long-term relationships with recycling mills throughout the Midwest and the country. Materials are immediately sold and shipped, where they are typically made into like-new recycled products we enjoy daily. Those plastic bottles never knew they would one day become our back deck; however, we all had the vision.

Industries of all types have greatly benefited from the efficiency of modern recycling. From manufacturing plants to service industries, we can conduct hands-on waste assessments and use decades of expertise to determine how companies can reduce costs and prove their pro-environment commitment. And, thanks to software that calculates every pound, penny, and recycled product, organizations get paid for their efforts. We engage customers in real-time recycling, where a portal provides immediate access to shipping, payment, and pricing data. One can instantly evaluate efforts, generate specific reports, and even see what specific impact efforts have had on the environment. For example, you’ll be able to know exactly how many trees your efforts have saved. What a great message to send on a holiday card next year. On second thought, hold the card and send it via email. All actions matter in our environmentally conscious community of consumers.

We hope the IBM alliance develops a new alloy to quickly melt plastics into a 100% recyclable liquid. And we are sure all the sea creatures are also behind their efforts. In the meantime, single-stream recycling makes it easy for individuals and profitable for industry. As a result, participation on all levels has increased, and efforts divert tremendous amounts of materials from landfills.

With three decades of service, we’ve seen enormous, positive change in our industry. What has not changed is that modern-day recycling efforts require old-fashioned teamwork. We thank all those who contribute materials to our center, the mills we partner with to sell materials, and the dedicated staff who process, sell, and transport our materials. We look forward to continued service and industry advancements that may make recycling even more convenient for consumers and advantageous for the environment.