The How recycling works.


How does recycling work?

With all the talk going around about being environmentally friendly and going green, we have all heard at one point or another the term ‘recycling.’ And while to us it may just seem like throwing pop cans into a recycling box, recycling is a very important part of our world. Recycling is a very simple concept. It can be as easy as turning an old cereal box into a magazine holder or turning an old hubcap into a birdbath. Whenever something has been used for one thing and then turned into something else, this is recycling. However, on an industrial scale, recycling can become much bigger and much more complex. On a much larger level, recycling consists of taking old materials, turning them back into their raw form, and then producing them to be something else. Aluminum cans, plastic, cardboard, and paper are all things that many households recycle every day. But there are other materials such as steel and even cell phones that can be recycled!

Every time something is recycled, it naturally becomes weaker than it was when it was new. Recycled paper for instance contains residual ink and the fibers are also smaller, which makes it weaker than new paper that is made from the pulp of wood. It’s for this reason that sometimes recycled paper can’t be used in photocopiers. When a recycled product is not as strong as the original, it’s known as down-cycling. Sometimes though, things can actually be recycled to be made stronger or more valuable than it once was. This can happen when things such as old tin cans and newspapers are reconstructed to make a beautiful piece of art or furniture. In this case, these items are known as being up-cycled.

The History of Recycling

Although recycling may seem like a new concept or trend to many of us, it’s actually something that has been around for centuries. Before recycling became the concept that we all know of today, people would recycle just about everything. This was because before the industrial age, it was simply too expensive to always be buying and using new things. Because of this, people were always looking for ways to use what they already had. In short, they were always trying to find ways to save money by recycling. And even though there were no community programs, or city government trucks that came to pick up the recycling, they did it in way that hit much closer to home.

The industrial age did many great things for the world. It also greatly contributed to the need for the world to start recycling. The industrial age allowed the world to start manufacturing and buying goods very cheaply. Because of this, people of the world started using things and simply tossing them away when they were finished with them. There no longer seemed to be a reason to find new uses for things and so, waste became much more of a problem. However, after the Great Depression hit, people once again started recycling again because they could no longer afford to buy new things. Then in the 1940s materials such as rubber, nylon, and metal started to be recycled and in some cases rationed so that different countries could get through the war.

Once again however, this trend of recycling didn’t last for very long. After the war, there was an incredible economic upswing and once again, people could afford to manufacture, buy, and waste in a continuous cycle. This cycle went on until April 22, 1970, when the first Earth Day was commemorated. This seemed to put people back into the spin of recycling and trying to find new uses for old things. After the first Earth Day, people did seem to become more aware of the importance of recycling. However, in an age where things could still be consumed faster than people could buy them it seemed, recycling was not a concept that picked up right away. However, ever since that first Earth Day in 1970, the trend of recycling has increased marginally every year. Today, most households in the Western world have at least one recycling box in their home, if not three or four of them.

Why Recycle?

When we consider why recycling is important, we might think that it’s simply to reduce the amount of garbage that surrounds us. That is definitely one of the biggest reasons why recycling is so important. But there are many others that most of us don’t even consider when we toss a can into the recycling box. Here are the biggest benefits that recycling holds.

Because reducing the amount of garbage is the biggest benefit to recycling, we’ll look at this one first. Reducing the amount of garbage we have is important because it reduces the amount of space that landfills use. Landfills are very large areas of land where garbage is thrown once it’s taken away from our homes. In the 1980s there were approximately 150 million tons of garbage that were sent to landfills in the United States. And today we haven’t gotten much better with approximately 100 million tons of garbage going to landfills around the country. However, the structure of landfills has significantly changed. Where once, ‘dumps’ used to be open areas of land where garbage would be thrown, today they are much better controlled and much cleaner and safer. But still, no one likes living next to a landfill and where space is abundant, using it for a landfill isn’t a very good idea either.

But landfills don’t only take up a lot of space; they can also be quite hazardous. Of all the garbage that is thrown into landfills, a lot of it is toxic chemicals. And even when toxins are being thrown out directly, the decomposing garbage emits toxins. These toxins are known as leachate. Leachate on its own creates a huge amount of pollution. And this particular kind of pollution can be extremely dangerous. Leachate can seep into the ground, which contaminates ground water and the many supplies that groundwater uses. There’s not nearly as much leachate being leaked into the ground today than there once was thanks to the introduction of clay caps and plastic sheeting. But there is still a small amount of leachate that’s leaked into the ground because of landfills. And any amount of leachate is too much. Recycling helps this problem by taking the waste out of the landfill and into recycling centers.

Of course, besides just saving the landfills from garbage, there’s also the matter of using renewable resources that recycling helps with. Even though things such as paper and cardboard are renewable resources, meaning that they can be reproduced over and over again, using new materials all the time causes a severe depletion in what resources we have. Conserving these resources helps to ensure that we will have resources in the future when we most need them, and that our future generations will to.

In some cases, recycling can also consume less energy, although it greatly depends on which materials you’re referring to. Steel is one material that uses much less energy to recycle than it does to produce new. However, certain types of plastic are very cheap to make from new materials and in these instances, recycling may actually more energy than manufacturing new. However, it cannot be denied that recycling helps the economy and can actually cut costs. This is because when municipal governments don’t need to factor in large landfills into their budgets, they can save millions of dollars every year. And with the introduction of recycling centers and recycling pick-up, recycling can also help to create more jobs.

What Exactly Can be Recycled? And how does it all happen?

There are many different materials that can be recycled. But each material cannot be recycled the same way. And in some instances, the same materials can’t even be recycled the same way. Here we’ll look at the different materials that can be recycled, and we’ll also look at just how that happens.

Paper is one of the most common materials to be recycled. Once recycled paper is collected, it is then sorted into different weights, different types, heaviness, the uses it has, color, and whether or not it’s already been recycled. The water will then be soaked with hot water and chemicals until it starts to resemble the consistency of soup. The paper then goes through a process that involves filters, magnets, and gravity to remove any unwanted items in the paper such as paper clips and staples. The paper is then run through another chemical that will remove the ink from the paper, or the ink can be blown to the surface where it can then be lifted off. The pulp that is left may be bleached but it’s not always. The paper is then rolled out into a large flat sheet, pressed, and dried. Once it is completely dried, it is cut into appropriate paper sizes.

Glass is one of the most valuable materials that can be recycled. This is because glass nearly always gains in value after it has been recycled. Glass can be recycled in one of two ways. Some recycling centers simply collect the glass, clean it, sterilize it, and then reuse it. The other way to recycle glass involves first separating the glass by color. Doing this prevents the glass from becoming mottled during the recycling process and taking on the color of other glass. Once it’s separated, the glass will be ground up into something that is just a bit coarser than a powder. It is then sifted and filtered using magnets and lasers and melted down. Once it’s completely melted, it can then be made into new glass.

Steel is also very valuable to recycle because it can save so much money and reduce resources that are used. Steel is also one of the easiest materials to recycle because it only involves giant machines that rip apart things like junk cars and steel from building construction. In the United States it’s actually law that all steel consists of 25% recycled steel. Once scrap steel is torn apart by the huge machines, it is also melted down and turned into giant sheets or coils. After that it is then distributed to different manufacturers.

Plastic material is one of the biggest issues that recycling faces. Plastic is in no way biodegradable and it is very cheap to make, meaning that lots of manufacturers use it and even more people buy it. Plastic is almost always made into something new when it is recycled. First it is sorted into different types and colors and then it is filtered and sifted to get rid of any contaminants that might be present. Once the plastic has been sifted, it is then cut up very finely and melted into small beads or they are stretched out into fibers. These fibers can then be used to make fleece, construction materials, molded furniture, or insulation.

Aluminum cans are some of the materials that do actually save a lot of money when they are recycled rather than buying new. Recycling an aluminum can is 95% cheaper than making a new one. Plus, new bauxite, the mineral found in aluminum, also doesn’t need to be mined. After aluminum cans are recycled, they are cut up and heated so that the paint on the cans can be removed. The pieces are melted in a huge furnace and mixed together. After that they are treated, they are then made into flat sheets, which are then turned into new aluminum cans.

There are three main ways that recycling is collected. One is the most common form that we all think of when we consider recycling and that is when it’s picked up at the curb. Large trucks just like garbage trucks pick up recycling boxes and throw them into various compartments in the truck. Sometimes the men on the truck will do a quick sort of the material but often this is left to the homeowner. Some communities also have drop-off centers where the homeowners can take things to be recycled. Some recycling centers are set up for all recyclable goods but they’re more common for hazardous items that need to be recycled such as propane tanks or paint cans. There are other kinds of drop-off centers that are more popular. These are known as buy-back centers and will pay individuals a certain amount of money for every recyclable that’s brought to them. How that works is that the individual pays a deposit when they initially purchase the product and when they return the recyclables to the buy-back center, the center will give them their deposit back.

Recycling certainly has come a long way since the 1970s but there’s still a long way to go. The United States recycles on average 30% of their consumer goods every year. And while that may seem impressive, consider that countries such as Germany and Sweden have a recycling rate of 60% and you can see that there is still a long way to go in many parts of the world. And for third-world and developing countries, that might need recycling the most, it’s almost nonexistent.


 How recycling works.