We did this three years ago, but I still think it's really interesting.
For a slide show of the tour, please click here.
When trucks arrive at the recycling center, the first thing they do is get weighed. After that they dump their co-mingled loads of plastic and metal. Local inmates load all of this onto a conveyor, which takes it into the building - you're going to see that word (conveyor) a lot.
Once inside the building, there are magnets that separate steel and aluminum, while workers separate plastic and glass. Conveyors dump steel and aluminum into hoppers and crushed into small cubes, which contain about a thousand cans. About a hundred cubes are bundled together for transport - pictured. Glass is separated by color and conveyors toss them into stalls outside - Companies buy recycled glass and use it to make other products.
Other products are sorted and bundled separately - plastic milk cartons are recycled into more milk cartons, while soda bottles and the like are made into carpeting. Paper is made into more paper.
Charleston County Recycling picks up most items at the curbside. A few things that they recycle, but not curbside, are CFLs, corrugated cardboard and electronics. For a complete list of recyclables, click here.