Toss it in a blue bin

A $39 million agency, OCRRA receives no direct tax support. Between disposal fees and approximately $15 million from an energy company through the waste to energy facilities, the system keeps moving along.

That said, what happens to the things everyone throws into their blue bins? Once the bins are dumped into the trucks, the trucks dump the material at a plant. Some may be single stream and others dual stream -- essentially everything gets tossed in together or paper goes in one part of the truck and glass, plastic and metal go in another.

Once at the recycling plant, everything is separated out. While there is a lot of technology at the plants to separate the materials, there's still a lot of human labor involved, Radin said.

When it comes to what can be recycled, residents were curious about the numbers stamped on the bottom of various plastic containers that range from one to seven. According to Radin, if it has a one or two, it's going to get recycled.

"Could they make it any more confusing?" he asked, adding that OCRRA no longer puts the numbers out there. Instead, if it's a plastic bottle, put it in the bin.

However, certain plastics can't be melted together and there really isn't a market for numbers three through seven because of the type of plastic they are. Everything that can't be recycled ends up at the waste to energy facility where it is burned and the energy is sold.

Since 1990, more than 10 million ton of residential and commercial waste has been recycled contributing to huge environmental and monetary benefits. Between 1998 and 2008 there was a steady level of recycling at about 40,000 ton each year in residential waste and 600,000 ton of commercial.

Newspapers by weight are the most recycled item. Radon said about 70 percent of the newspapers being generated are also getting recycled while about 30 percent get burned.

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