There are lasers that determine what kind of plastic a bottle contains. There are jets of air that separate bottles from metal cans.
There are large magnets that grab what most people call "tin" cans, but which really are made of steel. And there are 37 people with very quick hands, and a large, complicated machine with conveyor belts going every which way.
At the beginning of June, Lexington went to what is called "single stream" recycling, which means glass and everything else goes together in the Rosie cart.
Earlier this week, officials showed reporters the new equipment that makes single stream recycling possible and made a plea for more and better recycling. If you don't have a Rosie recycling cart, they said, it's good for the environment and, ultimately your wallet, to get one.
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"I hope the cameras are focusing on this mound of materials behind me because what we're seeing is a great demonstration of that great saying that one person's trash is another person's treasure," said Urban County Councilman Tom Blues, whose district includes the recycling center off Manchester Street.
Last year, the portion of city property taxes that goes for garbage pickup was cut by 10 percent because of recycling. Officials say the new system will allow more savings: about $1.5 million a year from avoided landfill costs and the revenue from selling recycled material.
Mayor Jim Newberry said at Tuesday's news conference that recycling by Lexington residents is helping provide jobs in other parts of Kentucky.
He mentioned the cardboard and newspapers that go to Inland Paper Board Packaging in Maysville, the plastic soft drink bottles and food containers that go to Signode Corp. in Florence, aluminum cans that are sent to Novelis in Berea, and telephone books that are converted to their new use at All-Weather Insulation in Springfield.
Because no one is buying recycled glass right now, bottles and jars are crushed and used as road bedding at the city's landfill.
What most people might have noticed in the switch to single-stream recycling is that glass now goes into the same container as everything else.
But the $3.7 million piece of sorting equipment means that much more material can be recycled. James Carter, the recycling center manager, said the machine and the people hand-sorting some of the material can handle 25 tons an hour. That's about the capacity of a large recycling truck.
Sixty to 70 percent of the households that are in areas served by Rosies have one. Officials would like to increase that number.
At the same time, a study last year suggested that 70 percent of the stuff that people throw away could be recycled or composted.
Lexington recycles 22,000 tons each year. Nearly 350,000 tons goes to the landfill as garbage.
People put all sorts of things in recycling carts, including some things that should not be recycled.
What causes the most trouble, Carter said, are trash and grocery bags because they gum up the equipment.
People also try to recycle clothes hangers (they get caught in the machinery), car parts, patio furniture, steak knives and old telephones. Needles also are a problem because they pose a health risk.
Sometimes kittens come through the recycling stream. Most are dead or badly injured, but one pulled out this spring was nursed back to health by a mother cat that was hanging around the recycling center.