Recycling, the truth & lies, pros & cons
What happens to all of our recyclable materials?
Step 1: collection & delivery
Step 2: sorting
Step 3: sell to become raw materials
The raw materials are then made into something new. This is "true recycling."
Aluminum and steel are infinitely recyclable, meaning they can be made into something new over and over and over again, making them part of a closed loop system.
"Dead end" recyclables are materials like plastic that can only be made into something new 1 or 2 times. For example they might become a picture frame and that frame then will go in the trash. It is a dead end.
End markets are a huge topic as that is the point when raw materials are turned into something new. This is crucial for the business of recycling to even exist and we are working to create more end markets in our local areas. This will bring the cost of recycling down too.
Common things products that can be recycled:
Glass, cans, paper & cardboard.
Glass includes glass bottles but not glass dishware.
Cans includes aluminum cans, steel is also recyclable, but not scrap metal.
Plastics are remembered by their shape: bottles, tubs, jugs, and jars. This does not include clamshells, chip bags, or plastic bags.
Paper & cardboard is obvious but needs to be flattened before arriving to the site. This does not include grease soaked cardboard.
Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Repurpose, Recycle (or Compost)
Lastly, it's always important to contact your local recycling facility to ask them what they do and do not accept in their single stream recycling. This is partly determined by the sorting machines they have and partly by what they can sell off.
Links I used for this information:
Plastic Wars (full film) from Frontline with Laura Sullivan
Eco Cycle's webinar
How China Broke the World's Recycling or as one commenter put it "How China stopped being the world's trash can"
Board Certified Dermatology practice for 26 years. Located in Monroe, LA and soon in Dallas, TX.