What happens to your recycling after it’s picked up at the curb?

The City of Columbus has contracted with Ray’s Trash Service to handle recyclable materials collected at residents’ homes. Once the City’s recycling collection truck picks up your recyclables, the materials are then taken to a transfer site in Columbus. Ray’s Trash Service, one of the largest recyclers in Indiana, collects the materials and transports them to a state-of-the-art sorting facility in Indianapolis.


Recycling plant workers separating material by hand.
Conveyor separating aluminum from other material.
Conveyors moving recyclable material.

The sorting facility is an elaborate, high-tech maze of conveyor belts and machinery that efficiently sorts recyclables by material; glass, metals, plastics and paper. But before the machines, the first step involves people. Quality-assurance employees examine the materials as they come in to ensure non-recyclable materials are separated out.


Once the materials clear pre-sorting, they move through an intricate automated process that sorts the recyclables by size first and then by material.

A variety of technological techniques is used to divide recyclables by material. Magnets pull up steel cans. The flash of a light and photoelectric sensors separates different kinds of plastic. Electric currents bump aluminum off the conveyor belt and into its own bins.

Compacting and Baling

Operator controlling how much material is sent to material compactor.
Separated material being compacted.

After separation, the materials are then baled for sale to mills that will reuse them.

Stacks of compressed cans.
Stacks of compressed paper.
Stacks of compressed plastics.

The City of Columbus receives a percentage of the profits from the sale of recyclable materials collected at the facility.

Sign up for the city’s curbside recycling.