What is the Recycling Process?
Plastics, sheets of paper, glass, wood, and other ‘waste’ materials are thrown away every day. And this is normal, because the natural thing to do to waste materials is to throw them away.
Or is it? Is it normal?
In this part of the world, we instinctively discard items we no longer use. It is what we were taught and what we are likely to pass on to the next generation if nothing is done to halt the progression. However, there is a ‘new normal’, a better and more beneficial ‘normal’.
This new normal is Recycling.
Recycling involves collection of all forms of waste and reinventing them for other purposes and uses. When you recycle, you convert waste and other used materials into reusable products.
Recycling reduces the need to grow, harvest or extract new raw materials from the environment. This reduces the harmful disruption and damage to the natural world, so there’ll be less trees cut down, rivers diverted, wild animals harmed or displaced, and less pollution of water, soil and air.
By recycling, you reduce the levels of waste sent to landfill thus reducing the negative environmental impact of landfill waste on the environment. As a business, you also save cost on waste collections and waste management.
Recycling is important because it benefits the economy, preserves resources and in many ways, protects our health. So we should accept it as the new normal for waste disposal, fast.
Recycling is a dynamic process. The iconic recycling symbol has 3 chasing arrows with each arrow representing one step in the recycling process to complete the recycling loop. Of these 3 stages, you should be most concerned with the first and third stages.
The Recycling Process
Collection of scrap materials and Processing
Waste materials are collected through drop-off recycling centers, roadside collection, deposit or refund programs. There are also recycling organizations that offer to pick up recyclable waste in your home or organization. Collection of materials is the first stage of recycling and you, the waste producer are the main participant.
The waste materials are then transported to a materials recovery facility or recycling centers where they are sorted out, cleaned and processed into ideal materials for manufacturing. The recyclable waste materials can be bought and sold the same way raw material would be.
Sorting is done just after collection. It is the process by which recyclable waste is separated into different elements. Waste sorting can occur manually at the household or automatically separated in materials recovery facilities.
Manufacturing is where the processed waste materials are converted into useful products. Many products in the modern day are manufactured using recycled waste materials. A lot of today’s products are being manufactured with recycled content and you probably already purchase products with recycled content without realising it
Common products manufactured using recycled materials include paper towels, newspapers, steel cans, soft drink containers made of plastic glass and aluminum, cereal boxes, egg cartons, car bumpers, trash bags, plastic laundry detergents, etc.
Sales of Recycled Materials
The finished recycled product is then made available on the market. You can be part of waste reduction campaigns by purchasing products made from recycled materials. It’s pretty easy to identify products of recyclable material because the words are plastered on the labels.
Your recycling activity is incomplete if you’re not buying recycled products or products that contain recycled materials. Purchasing recycled materials is the third and final stage of recycling. It’s like ‘closing the recycling loop’. Buying recycled products expands the market for recyclable materials and makes recycling worth it.