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VERIFY Road Trip | Where is your recycling really going?

After a number of viewers reached out to our VERIFY team to ask about the recycling process in Temple. We hit the road to see for ourselves.

TEMPLE, Texas — Our VERIFY team works to get you answers on things you're wondering about. We've had a number of people reach out to ask about the city of Temple's recycling program. 

The most common question has been: Is the city actually completing the recycling process? 

Take this latest question for example. A viewer named Penny recently wrote to us and asked: "Does Temple really recycle? I am wanting to know and get verified if the city of Temple waste and landfill services are really completing the recycle process. I see recycling containers but what really happens in Temple once it leaves your recycling container?" 

We hit the road to follow the process from beginning to end. 

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We started things off bright and early where it all begins-- the city's solid waste facility. For this trip, we're following a driver who is collecting from neighborhoods in west Temple. 

The city told us a typical route takes about 10 hours. 

"We offer recycling services four days a week in the city of Temple. Mondays Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays." said Temple spokesperson Laurie Simmons.

Anything in the bin that is considered a contaminant, like glass, is flagged by the driver. The rest is hauled off to a transfer facility in the city.

"Since 2014, we've seen a 150 percent increase in the demand from our residents," Simmons said. 

So, we know the recycling is being picked up and put together, but there’s no sorting plant in Temple, so where does it all go? We got back on the road to find out. 

The answer took us just outside Austin to Balcones Resources. They have a contract with the city of Temple.

"Here, we sort it into different categories, your cardboard, mixed paper, aluminum cans etc." Company spokesperson Brent Purdue said.

Close to 300 tons of recyclable material is brought through the facility every single month from Temple alone and the service is free.

"It is part of our solid waste fees. It's something we added to the services without adding any cost." Simmons said. 

At Balcones, it’s all sorted, packaged, and shipped out to different mills across America to be remade into brand new products. 

"A lot of our paper fiber goes to mills regionally, to places like Louisiana and Oklahoma, and even here in Texas. There's a mill outside of Dallas that our paper goes to." Purdue said. "Our glass goes to a mill outside of Dallas. Our plastics will go to the east coast, and sometimes even to Dallas as well."

So back to our original question: When you fill up your green bin every week and pull it to the curb, is everything inside actually being recycled?

"Of course! We are happy to do a tour for any citizen from the city of Temple to come out and see the facility." Purdue said. 

After following the process from start to finish, we can Verify, yes, the city is completing the recycling process. 

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