Recycling Services and The Good And The Bad

When you throw plastic bottles, aluminum cans, and other recyclables into the blue bin, you probably feel a sense of pride. Knowing you are doing your part to help the environment. 

I know I do.

But what is the process of recycling?

Read below to learn all about the recycling centers. The good, the bad, the advantages, and disadvantages. 

Recycling is good for the planet but there are some struggles to be aware of. It’s important to realize that recycling is a small piece of an eco-friendly lifestyle. There are many other ways to have a positive impact on the planet.

So, what are recycling centers and how does recycling work?

What Is Recycling?

Recycling is the process of turning old used materials into new ones. It is an alternative to “conventional” waste disposal that can save material and help lower greenhouse gas emissions. 

Also, recycling helps reduce the exploitation of natural resources, saves money, and reduces pollution and waste.

It is more than just separating plastic bottles and aluminum cans out of the trash. It is a process that includes collecting recyclable materials, processing them into raw materials and then manufacturing the raw materials into new products. 

There are many types of recyclables, sometimes called recyclates. Including, batteries, plastic, paper, glass, aluminum, steel, motor oil, tires, toxics, refrigerators, and computer printers. Organic matter is also recyclable through the use of composting. 

How Does Recycling Help The Environment?

Recycling can prevent the waste of potentially useful materials and reduce the consumption of fresh raw materials, thereby reducing energy usage, air pollution (from incineration), and water pollution (from landfills).

Natural resources are being depleted at an alarming rate due to the convenience of single-use packaging. And a growing population doesn’t help either.

And a gut-wrenching statistic, currently less than 25% of waste is being recycled. The rest is being buried or incinerated in landfills. 

More than 70% of the waste we produce can be reused and recycled.

Nearly everything you use in your everyday life can be recycled. When you are decluttering or finished with something, check to see if it can be reused or recycled.

Even if just half of you reading this recycled on a regular basis, it would reduce greenhouse emissions equivalent to taking 25 million cars off the road. 

Think about what it would be like if ALL OF YOU started recycling on a daily basis! 

Recycling helps reduce the exploitation of natural resources, saves money, and reduces pollution and waste.

Recycling Benefits

  • Reduces the amount of waste sent to landfills
  • Conserves natural resources such as timber, water, and minerals
  • Prevents pollution by reducing the need to collect new raw materials
  • Saves energy and money
  • Conserves valuable resources and cuts down on carbon emissions
  • Reduces greenhouse gas emissions
  • Stimulates the use of greener technologies
  • Prevents the loss of biodiversity

Disadvantages of Recycling

Ok, so now you know the benefits of recycling, but what about the disadvantages? 

Yes, recycling is important and it is one of the Rs of eco-friendly life. Refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle, and rot. 

It is further down the chain because there are some repercussions of recycling. One is that it takes energy and creates pollution to recycle. 

Recycling requires waste to be transported, sorted, cleaned and processed in separate factories. All of which need energy and may result in by-products that can pollute the air, water or soil.

Also, recycling can have an adverse effect on health and the environment when not done properly. Debris and toxic waste that is improperly handled can contaminate land, air, and the environment.

Recycling does help reduce energy usage, consumption of raw materials, and air and water pollution, but it does have its drawbacks. 

This is why it’s important to focus on living more simply and refusing to buy new things you don’t need. Also, reducing what you do use and reusing before getting new. And then recycling. 

How Recycling Works

Single-stream recycling is when you can throw all your recyclable materials in the same bin. You do not have to separate different materials such as paper, plastic, and glass into separate bins. 

If single-stream recycling is not an option in your area, you will have to separate your recyclables into their own bins. 

Curbside Pickup

If there is a curbside pickup in your area, there are special trucks fitted with separate containers for different types of recyclable materials that go up and down city streets. They pick up recycling, just like garbage trucks pick up the waste. 

Some trucks and recycling employees do preliminary sorting of materials as they are thrown into the truck. Some communities require the homeowner to sort and separate recyclables themselves. 

Curbside recycling is considered a low-risk strategy to reduce waste volumes and increase recycling rates. 

Typically, recyclables are collected in large wheelie bins, plastic bags, or small open colored plastic tubs. 

Drop-Off Centers

If your area doesn’t offer curbside recycling there may be drop-off centers. Or there are drop off centers for recyclables that curbside does not pick up. 

A drop off center is a location set up to accept recyclable materials, which the homeowners transport themselves. 

Buy-Back Centers

These centers are similar to drop off centers except they pay homeowners for their items based on market values. 

These are usually part of a retail business such as an auto scrap yard that buys scrap metal by weight. 

Deposit/Refund Programs

You can return an empty bottle or can to a collection center to redeem it for a refund of the deposit. The deposit is typically five cents and is added to the sale price. 

What Are Recycling Centers?

Recycling centers are a facility that collects, stores, and processes recyclables. Including crushing, breaking, sorting, and packaging of materials. 

How Do Recycling Centers Work?

The separation process starts when the truck arrives at the Materials Recovery Facility (MRF). The process may vary from place to place but all have the same goal of creating new products. 

Recycling bins are emptied where advanced technology is used to view and sort the waste. A drum tumbles the waste to separate all fine materials, such as soil, dust, and food waste. All of which could contaminate recycled materials. 

Materials are carried along a conveyer belt to a v-screen separator, which separates paper, newspaper, and cardboard. Plastics, metal, and glass fall through the separator to a conveyor belt below. 

Paper products are bundled for processing and the heavier items continue down the belt. Paper that is separated is sent off to go through a few processes to get turned back into usable paper.

A giant magnet attracts metals including iron, tin, and steel and places them in a bin where they can be prepared for a metal mill. These items are crushed and melted down so it can be mixed with new steel and made into new products. 

Non-magnetic items, such as aluminum continue along with the plastic and glass recyclables. A fan pushes lighter goods and non-magnetic goods like aluminum and plastic upward while heavier glass items drop down to a conveyor belt. 

A big spinning drum called an Eddy Current Separator creates a strong magnetic field that repels aluminum away while plastics continue on the conveyor belt. Like steel, aluminum can be fairly easily reused by shredding and melting it to make new sheets of aluminum.

The glass is crushed into tiny pieces and can either be sent directly to manufactures or placed in a furnace and heated into molten glass for repurposing into new products. 

Recycling Industry Struggles

Disposable byproducts of our throwaway culture found a market in China. Allowing us to toss our garbage in recycling bins with a clean conscious. 

These recyclables were shipped to China. But in late 2017, China imposed a ban on imports of certain scrap papers and plastics. 

More nations prepare to follow China’s lead which is causing the recycling industry to struggle. In fact, California’s largest recycling operator, RePlanet, shut it’s doors and laid off 750 employees. 

China started banning certain scrap imports partly because of complaints that the U.S was shipping “contaminated” and poorly sorted recyclables. 

This has prompted an increase in U.S. recycling plants to fill the void. Now, scrap waste is piling up in warehouses and in waterways, oceans, landfills, and incinerators. 

We need to realize that there are limitations to recycling. And, assuming that everything in the blue bin does, in fact, get recycled. 

As a consumer, it’s time to change your purchasing practices and avoid single-use containers.

I found this on Recycling is broken, So We Have to Fix Our Disposable Culture and said, “Amen”.

Consumer waste and recycling is a broken system that can’t be solved by just better recycling alone. Don’t get me wrong — recycling, remanufacturing, and repair all have their place in the transition to a circular and regenerative economy, but the reliance on a cure-all magic system that takes your old clamshell salad box and turns it into something just as valuable and useful is very far away from the reality of the current status quo. The undeniable issue is that we have created a disposable culture, and no amount of recycling will fix it. We need to remedy this illness at the root cause: producer-enforced disposability and the rapid increase of a throwaway culture being normal.

-Leyla Acaroglu 

Things You Can Recycle For Money

Here are some items that could earn your money to recycle. Depending on where you live:

  • Scrap metal
  • Bottles
  • Cans
  • Car batteries
  • Ink cartridges
  • Electronics

Find a Collection Point- Find a recycling center near you and see what options you have for making money. You can also use this service to find out how to properly dispose of hazardous items and items not picked up in the curbside. 

Prepare Item For Recycling- Check with your local recycling center to see whether you have to prepare your recyclables in any specific way.

Recycling Centers Near Me

Ok, so I told you that recycling isn’t perfect but by all means, if you do have single-use items, throw it in the recycling bin. It’s a better alternative to shipping it off to the landfills.

Here are a few resources to find recycling centers near you:

What other recycling options are there?

  • Donate recyclables to a community service program.
  • Utilize available curbside recycling programs.

These programs are operated by independent businesses, nonprofits, or local governments. 

Conclusion On The Recycling Process 

Relying just on recycling isn’t enough to make a positive change. It is an important step but the system isn’t perfect. 

Be aware of how you contribute to the throwaway culture. What steps can you take to cut down on disposables and single-use items?

Remember the Rs of eco-friendly life. Refuse, reduce, reuse, and then recycle. 

And when you do recycle make sure you find the nearest recycling center and follow their guidelines on the best and right way to recycle. 

Be sure to remove caps if you need to, wash out cans and food items, don’t contaminate the pile. 

Remember, every step counts! 

Find A Recycling Center Near You and Be Sure To Recycle Right

What are your thoughts on recycling? Do you recycle things for money? Besides recycling do you focus on using reusable products? Share in the comments. 

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