Glass is made of sand, limestone and other raw material. When it is recycled, it is turned into cullets, a granular material of crushed up jars and bottles of glass. The reason we recycle glass is because it is not biodegradable and takes millions of years to breakdown in landfills. One kilogram of cullet replaces 1.2 kg of raw materials, according to James V. Nordmeyer, vice president of global sustainability at Owens-Illinois, a major manufacturer of glass bottles and containers. Glass unlike other recyclables, can be recycled forever. After it gets picked up from your recycling bin, your glass goes to a sorting facility where it will be sorted by color. After the sorting, the different types of glass are then crushed into tiny pieces. Contaminants are then removed from them. These contaminants could be anything from tiny pieces of metal or plastic that may have made their way into the glass piles accidentally. The cullets are then melted and are stripped of their color through oxidization. And finally, they are then moulded into various products and sold.
Paper is also easy to recycle. Unless it is recycled, paper becomes part of garbage dumps and landfills, contributing to problems like greenhouse gas emissions and pollution. Paper recycling can alleviate many of these problems by turning this scrap paper into new paper. So how is paper recycled? Well, first it gets collected from your recycling bin. It is then separated and graded into similarly graded paper. This is important because different grades of paper have different amounts of fiber in them. The graded paper is then turned into pulp using water, hydrogen peroxide and caustic soda soap. This pulp is cleaned of off any non-paper debris and is now ready for de-inking! Once it is whitened, it is fed into rollers and then dried. The dried pulp is then turned into paper. Unlike Aluminum, paper loses some of its quality after recycling and will eventually become non recyclable. Therefore, it is encouraged to use paper resources responsibly! By recycling your paper, you save trees and landfill space!
Of all recyclables, plastic is the hardest to recycle because recycling it is more expensive than creating it. Not all plastic can be recycled. Different types of plastics must be processed in different ways and some recycling facilities are only capable of recycling one type of plastic. Sometimes packaging contains more than one polymer type, which makes it more difficult to recycle, so recycling facilities don’t bother recycling it. The first step in recycling plastic is stripping it of any impurities like labels, and glue particles. Different kinds of plastics are labelled differently based on the polymers they contain. This is usually indicated by a number at the bottom of the plastic item. Plastics that can be recycled are indicated by one of the following numbers: 1,2,4,5. Those indicated by 3,6 or 7 cannot be recycled. Some of these even contain toxics and chemicals harmful to human health, that can leech into our food or water supply. The process of recycling consists of collecting, sorting, shredding, cleaning, melting, and finally making pellets to be sold to manufacturers to make new plastic products. Of all recyclable materials, plastic is the most harmful to our health and planet, and the least recycled. Out of all the plastic supply ever created in the world, only nine percent of it has ever been recycled. Out of the 91 percent that still exists, 12 percent of it has been incinerated and 79 percent is still currently in landfills polluting our planet, and hurting our environment. Plastic has a life span of over 500 years which means that every plastic bottle you have ever used, your parents have used, your grandparents have used, and their parents have used is still on this planet! Don’t let these figures discourage you. The energy saved from recycling just a single plastic bottle can power a 100 watt light bulb for nearly an hour. So doing your part in recycling plastic is totally worth it!
With Love and Compassion,
1st Photo by Gary Chan on Unsplash
2nd Photo by Chutter Snap on Unsplash
3rd Photo by Elevate on Unsplash
4th Photo by Boudewijn Huysmans on Unsplash
5th Photo by Brian Yurasits