Even with separate collection, in which dry waste is separated from organic waste, segregating different recyclable materials is no simple task, especially in large urban centers like São Paulo. Thus the importance of the mechanized sorting centers, which can separate waste and make recycling possible by adding economies of scale, generating benefits for everyone—the public, recycling cooperatives and industry.
Everything begins with the separation of dry waste from organic waste inside homes and companies. The trucks dedicated only to dry waste circulate on certain days and take the material to the center. There it is dumped by a tractor into a machine that rips the sacks open and sends the waste on mechanical conveyor belts to the sorter, which separates the waste by size and then by shape. From there the waste follows different paths.
Next, the materials are scanned by optical readers that select the different types of plastic and also processed by magnetic and nonmagnetic sorters for ferrous and nonferrous metals. Finally, manual sorting is done for the rest of the materials. Paper, aluminum, plastic, glass and other materials are compacted and sent to companies that use them as raw material in their production processes.
The Mechanized Sorting Center can process a much larger amount of material than with manual sorting. And, in this way, it is able to recover value from large amounts of waste that would end up in landfills.