Video: What happens to the stuff in your blue recycle bin?

Reader Carol Y. sent us this great video which provides an informative look at what happens to the myriad of items you put into your blue, curbside recycling bin – the plastics, the cans, the bottles etc.

And while we’re on the topic of recycling, why not bone up on the do’s and don’ts of what onhealthy buy champix online goes into your blue bin? Plastic bottle – Yes. Saran wrap (flexible plastics) – No. Pizza boxes – no (they go in compost)…

Let’s help those sorters have an easier job! 🙂

Sarah B.



  1. Not much is done as to the cans and bottles as the scavengers get all the high $$ stuff out long before our blue bins are picked up.
    Of course we all pay larger garbage rates because the high $$ recycle items are stolen from the bins.

  2. I am curious, how do they sort landfill and recycling in the trucks? They dump both bins at the same time into the same truck. Which seems odd since we sort all our bins. I know compost is picked up separately.

    BTW, as to our rates, they are about the same as most suburbs. Our rates are pretty low compared to other large cities. When I lived in the Austin metro, the rate I pay there is about the same as here.

  3. @Mel – Look more closely and you’ll see there is a divider between the two compartments in the truck. So they can dump both at the same time but they go into different spaces.

  4. The divided (blue and green bin) collection goes to Tunnel Avenue and the garbage portion is re-loaded onto old-school White garbage trucks (the ones used in Soylent Green) and taken to a landfill in the East Bay. The “recyclables” are dumped onto a conveyor belt for manual sorting and resale, returned to garbage or used in art projects by Recology workers.

    Meanwhile the separate compost (green bin) truck composts and re-sells the compost. Not sure where that facility is located.

  5. I have seen them reverse the bins now and then, so I was just wondering. Additionally, because of the sorting in the truck, they must have to dump constantly after finishing an Ave or two. I know it gets compacted, but the trucks are not that big. Don’t get me wrong, I think Recology does a great job. In fact, I included them in a lesson I wrote for a national textbook.

  6. This was a fascinating video. the fact that a lot of the steel that gets recycled ends up in rebar for use in buildings really surprised me. I wonder how many sorters they employ at any one time?

  7. does anyone think we should try to stop the blue bin scavenging every week?

  8. …”does anyone think we should try to stop the blue bin scavenging every week?”

    I wish it would stop. Why? Other than the money involved, if you live on a building with bedrooms on the street side you get waken up in the middle of the night when they go into the cans. They allow paper to tumble out that has to be picked up after they have gone. They drop glass that breaks on the side walk that has to be swept up. In short, they steel, they make noise, and they make a mess.

  9. Spencer and JD I 100% agree with you two! To make it worse there are some college kids that live in the unit below me and go through a lot of beer cans. The scavengers sometimes knock on our doors asking for more cans but don’t understand when I tell them 1. it isn’t my unit that puts the cans there and 2. stop!

  10. Mike, look up how to say what you want to say (in simple sentences) using a device like Google translate. Print it out. Hold up the sheet and make sure it also tells them that you will call the police if they bother you again. My advice is that you pretend you ARE the people who put out the beer bottles because they shouldn’t be on your property, don’t give them info to start bothering your neighbors who may contribute to the stealing & noise.

  11. Mike, To be clear, what I meant by “they shouldn’t be on your property” was the person/people who are looting them (not the beer bottles or the neighbors).

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