County of San Mateo RecycleWorks RecycleWorks Kids Section
Recycle Games Eco-Links Art Get Out Climate Change
RecycleWorks Home
  Recycle

After you are done using both sides of your paper, you should recycle it instead of throwing it in the trash. Recycling means that the piece of paper will be made into new paper.

What happens to the paper you throw in the recycling bin?

It gets burned
It is put in a landfill
It is used to make new paper

If you recycled your household copy of the San Mateo County Times every day for a year, you'd save the equivalent of 4 trees, 15 pounds of air pollutants, 2,200 gallons of water, and enough energy to power a 100 watt light bulb for 152 days.

Where does your recycling go?

trash cans and recycling bins When you place your recycling on the curb do you ever wonder where it goes? First of all, it gets picked up by a recycling truck and is taken to a nearby transfer station for more sorting.
recycled paper sorting The recycling trucks in San Mateo County go to one of five transfer stations: Blue Line Transfer Station in South San Francisco, the San Carlos Recycling Center in San Carlos, GreenWaste Recovery in San Jose, San Bruno Garbage Company in San Bruno, or the Coastside Recycling Yard in Pacifica. At the transfer station, all the different types of materials are carefully sorted both by machines and people.
bails of paper for recycling

Once everything has been sorted, the materials are baled. This picture shows bales of cardboard, paper and aluminum. The bales are sent to specialized recycling factories all over the country and in Asia where the scrap is remanufactured into new products.

How are materials recycled once they leave the transfer station?

paper to be recycled Paper
Paper is mixed with water to create pulp. The pulp is de-inked and passed through a screen, which removes contaminants like glue and staples and flattens the pulp. The pulp is then squeezed between two rollers to remove the water and make new sheets of paper. More Paper Details.
soda cans in recycling bin Aluminum
Aluminum is melted and cleaned. The melted aluminum is poured into molds making massive aluminum bars called ingots. These ingots are rolled into new sheets of aluminum used to make new cans. One can recycled saves enough energy to power a TV for three hours. More Aluminum Details.
pile of cans Bi-Metal Cans
Bi-Metal cans are soaked in chemicals to separate the tin coating from the steel. The steel is crushed into bales and remanufactured into rebar and other products. The tin is melted and made into massive tin ingots, which can be used to make new cans, among other products. Recycled tin is higher in quality than mined tin as all the impurities have been removed.
mountain of cans Glass
Glass is broken into tiny pieces and mixed with silica sand, soda ash and limestone, then melted. The molten glass is blown into molds to make new containers. Glass can be recycled over and over and doesn't go down in quality. More Glass Details.
pile of plastic containers Plastics
First of all, #1 plastics are separated from other types of plastics. All plastics are washed and cut into tiny pieces and contaminants such as glue are removed. These pieces are melted and turned into tiny plastic balls called pellets. Pellets from #1 plastics are made into beverage containers, carpeting and fiber used to make fleece. Other types of plastics can be made into new bottles, plastic lumber and toys. More Plastics Details.