Recycling is very important because it enables us to reuse natural resources to make new products, rather than finding more. Recycling paper, for example, means that we don’t need to cut down more trees, and recycling glass saves us from needing to melt down more sand and polluting the environment.
Depending on how rubbish removal in your local area works, you might have already separated your recyclables into glass, plastic, aluminum and paper before it gets collected, or it might all be mixed together in one rubbish bin. Regardless, the first step in recycling is to make sure recyclables aren’t mixed together.
The processes for recycling each product are quite different, so the rubbish will now be removed from the collection place and sent to different recycling plants.
Paper: Paper waste is separated into types and grades of product, then washed with soap in order to clear any ink off it. The paper is then all dumped into a holder and combined with water to break it down and mix it together.
After the paper is broken down into a pile of sludge, different products can be added to make different paper goods. Anything from toilet paper through to cardboard can be made using recycled paper in this way.
Aluminium: After the rubbish removal and separation process, aluminum products (generally cans) are washed to make sure they don’t have any food or drink left in them. The cans are then all melted down, which removes the coatings and inks that different brands like to put on their products.
The molten aluminium is then cast into easy to transport ingots using a mould. The ingots of aluminium are then sold to various factories to be pressed flat and formed into various aluminium products, such as cars, aeroplanes, alfoil and more cans.
Glass: At the recycling plant glass is separated by color, and washed to remove any impurities left. After this, all of the glass is crushed (each color separately) and the crushed glass sent to different factories.
At the factory the crushed glass will be melted and then moulded or blown into new products, such as bottles and jars. The product depends on which rubbish removal company owns the factory. Unlike other recyclables glass does not degrade through the recycling process, so in theory glass bottles can be recycled forever.
Plastics: Many plastics are not recyclable, but people often do not realise which types can be recycled and which cannot (if the number on the container within the triangle symbol is 1, 2 or 4, it is recyclable). This means that a second stage of sorting must be done, with recyclable plastics separated by type and non-recyclables sent to a landfill.
After this second stage of rubbish removal each type of plastic is sent to a different factory to be melted down or at least softened and mixed. The plastic is then recast and reused.
Now that you know how the recycling process works for each of these different materials, try to help your local recycling plant by separating the different types of rubbish before its removal. You should also try to recycle as much as you can.