Here’s what happens to the bottles in your Clynk bag

Kyle Cassell wheels a mound of full Clynk bags across the floor the company’s recycling facility in South Portland on Friday morning. The company plans on extending its operation to 51 grocery stores in New York. Troy R. Bennett | BDN

Kyle Cassell wheels a mound of full Clynk bags across the floor the company’s recycling facility in South Portland on Friday morning. The company plans on extending its operation to 51 grocery stores in New York. Troy R. Bennett | BDN

Clynk’s green plastic bags are a familiar sight at Hannaford grocery stores in Maine. Customers fill them with returnable beverage containers and drop them off. Within 48 hours, the folks at the Clynk recycling plant in South Portland sort, count, squish and bale them. Then, customers get the deposit money transferred into special Clynk accounts. The money can be drawn out, or spent directly at Hannaford.

Right now, Clynk works with 49 Hannaford store in Maine. It can process 10 million cans, bottles and milk jugs a month in the summer, when it’s busy.

On Friday morning, I spent a couple hours in the plant, where I got to see how it works. There’s a fair amount of automation, but it’s still a hands-on, and slightly sticky operation.

Here’s what my camera saw:

Plastic, glass and aluminum beverage containers make their way up a conveyor belt at Clynk’s recycling facility in South Portland on Friday morning. In the summer, Clynk recycles 10 million containers a month. Troy R. Bennett | BDN

Plastic, glass and aluminum beverage containers make their way up a conveyor belt at Clynk’s recycling facility in South Portland on Friday morning. In the summer, Clynk recycles 10 million containers a month. Troy R. Bennett | BDN

A laser scanner detects a barcode on a beverage can at Clynk’s recycling facility in South Portland on Friday morning. Much of the company’s workflow is automated. Troy R. Bennett | BDN

A laser scanner detects a barcode on a beverage can at Clynk’s recycling facility in South Portland on Friday morning. Much of the company’s workflow is automated. Troy R. Bennett | BDN

Pedra So-Melony guides cans and bottles onto an automated sorting machine at Clynk, a supermarket based recycling company in South Portland, on Friday. Clink has plans to expand to New York. Troy R. Bennett | BDN

Pedra So-Melony guides cans and bottles onto an automated sorting machine at Clynk, a supermarket based recycling company in South Portland, on Friday. Clink has plans to expand to New York. Troy R. Bennett | BDN

A 700 pound bale of recycled plastic bottles is extruded from a machine at the Clynk recycling facility in South Portland on Friday morning.  Troy R. Bennett | BDN
A 700-pound bale of recycled plastic bottles is extruded from a machine at the Clynk recycling facility in South Portland on Friday morning. Troy R. Bennett | BDN
Forklift driver Joe Heroux takes a 700 pound bale of high-density plastic to a waiting truck at the Clynk recycling facility in South Portland on Friday. Clynk plans on opening a second such facility in Scotia, New York. Troy R. Bennett | BDN

Forklift driver Joe Heroux takes a 700 pound bale of high-density plastic to a waiting truck at the Clynk recycling facility in South Portland on Friday. Clynk plans on opening a second such facility in Scotia, New York. Troy R. Bennett | BDN

Paul Willmott cleans up the leavings after machine extrudes a 700 pound bale of recycled plastic bottles at the Clynk recycling facility in South Portland on Friday morning. Troy R. Bennett | BDN

Paul Willmott cleans up the leavings after machine extrudes a 700 pound bale of recycled plastic bottles at the Clynk recycling facility in South Portland on Friday morning. Troy R. Bennett | BDN

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Troy R. Bennett

About Troy R. Bennett

Troy R. Bennett is a Buxton native and longtime Portland resident whose photojournalism has appeared in media outlets all over the world.