Recycling In Delaware
How does is work?
Delaware has single stream recycling which means all the accepted recyclable materials are allowed to be placed into the same recycle bin. Recycling contributes to the conservation of Earth's natural resources and our state's landfill space. Scroll down to learn about the recycling process!
Always make sure you are recycling the correct materials! Download an "Accepted Materials Poster" or visit DNREC's Recycleopedia as an addition resource!
All single stream recyclables are placed into the same bin. Paper, Cardboard, Plastic Containers, Steel /Aluminum Cans, Cartons, & Glass Bottles/Jars are all accepted in recycle bins. Always clean recyclables and never place recyclables inside plastic bags.
By law, all waste hauling companies are required to provide recycle bins and pickup service alongside trash service. If you do not have trash pick up, it is free to bring recyclables to any all DSWA Drop Off Center.
All recyclables generated in Delaware are brought to the Delaware Recycling Center in New Castle. Waste hauling trucks and transfer trucks loaded with recyclables are first weighed to determine how much material are they bringing in.
The Delaware Recycling Center is home to the only Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) in the state. A MRF is a sorting and processing facility where recyclables are sorted by material type and prepared to be sold into the recycling market.
Trucks dump their recyclables onto the tipping floor. Here, large items that are not recyclable are removed to ensure no damage to sorting machines.
Manuel sorting of recyclables is needed to remove smaller items that could harm employees or damage machines. Plastic bags, wires, metal hangers, and dirty recyclables are the most common items removed.
Glass bottles and jars are accepted in recycle bins. These are crushed by a glass crushing system and then loaded into trucks. Crushed and cleaned glass can be recycled into new beverage containers, fiber glass insulation, & road paving filler.
Cardboard and Paper, known as fiber material, are sorted using rotating disc machines. The discs rotate to separate 2D fiber material from 3D containers. Manual sorters then separate out any contaminated or dirty fiber. Fiber is recycled into the same types of products
Steel cans are separate from the rest of the material by a large rotating magnet drum. The drum is powerful enough to lift cans and lids off of the conveyor belt and drop then in a holding bunker below. After leaving the MRF, steel cans are melted down and reformed into new cans.
Plastic are captured using optical sorters. Optical sorters use infrared to scan each plastic type. The machine then sends a burst of air to blow the desired plastic away from the rest of the material. Plastic will be made into new bottles, carpet products, and lumber material.
Aluminum cans and foil are sorted using an eddy current separator. This deflects aluminum cans away from the rest of the material flow. Aluminum cans will be recycled into new cans.
To be sure the MRF is capturing the most high value recyclables a robot sorter is used for quality control. This ensures that no recyclables are sent with the residue to the landfill.
Manuel sorters are also used for quality control.
Once recyclables are sorted by material type they are baled using steel wire. Baling materials helps maximize space in transport vehicles.
Recyclables are transported via truck to shipping ports or directly to manufacturers. Many of Delaware's recyclables are kept in the United States for recycling.