Cans and bottles are carried by conveyor past powerful magnets that separate steel cans and strong blowers that push out aluminum cans. Plastic and colored glass bottles are separated by hand and dropped into bins. Paper and cardboard are dropped into bins on the other side of the center.
From the bins, the material goes to another conveyor that takes it to a machine that crushes cans, plastic bottles, paper and cardboard and presses it into 1,200-pound bales. From there it's hauled to factories where the metal is transformed into aluminum or steel ingots, the plastic changed into fabric for carpeting and the paper and cardboard transformed into roofing material, Reed said.
Before recycling, an average family dropped off three bags of household garbage a week at the adjacent transfer station.
"Now it's one bag of garbage and two of recyclables," Reed said.
"I think more people are starting to believe in recycling. You can tell that by the volume that's coming in here. It's increasing all the time," Poper said.
The center also recycles yard waste and brush for composting or mulch for use at the township's Pine Hill Recreation Area, Reed said.
Reed is in charge of the center, which is run by eight part-time employees and a handful of volunteers. It also takes adults who have been ordered to do community service work by the courts, plus high school students trying to meet community service graduation requirements, Reed said. Older residents in federal retraining programs also work at the center.
The facility was designed by Jerry Ziegler, the township's code enforcement officer, after several visits to other recycling centers, said Township Manager Michael Christopher.
A federal grant for $850,000 paid for most of the construction.
Christopher said the center is not yet self-supporting because of the fledgling market for recyclables and fluctuating prices.