Recycling 101

We’ve been told for years, "reduce, reuse, recycle!"  But does all of this recycling really make a difference? What you need to know is that it is important to continually integrate new practices into our lives as our awareness increases, and that every little bit helps a lot.  Here is a  quick look to at some of our basic waste products and how to recycle them.

Aluminum

 

Aluminum cans are condensed, shredded, melted down, and spread into sheets that can then be cut for use.

How to Recycle
Rinse out and remove any plastic add-ons like caps.

Plastic

 

Plastics are carefully and extensively sorted, washed, shredded, melted, screened, and chopped into small pieces.

How to Recycle
Rinse out, remove and toss caps, and check the number on the plastic to ensure that it corresponds with local recycling center rules.

Glass

 

Glass is sorted by color, crushed, screened for contaminants, combined with a variety of raw materials (like sand), melted, molded, and cooled.

How to Recycle
Rinse out, remove lids or caps, and make sure that the glass color is in compliance with local recycling center rules.  If the color is not in compliance, the center will be able to give guidance on appropriate disposal.

Paper

 

Paper is sorted, sold to a paper dealer, and sorted further into high grade (office paper) or low grade (newspapers, phone books).  High grade is sent to a mill where ink is removed via chemical wash.  Both grades are then turned to pulp, screened, bleached, mixed with new pulp from freshly harvested wood product, drained, dried, flattened, and trimmed.

How to Recycle
Make sure cardboard and papers are relatively clean and dry, remove and toss magazine inserts, and remove paperclips and rubber bands.  Telephone books usually carry information about how they can be recycled.  DO NOT include paper with food, oil, plastic lamination, or wax (milk cartons are the exception in some areas).

This is just a simple tutorial on how to start recycling. More specific information about recycling processes in your area can be found online.