So, What Actually Happens To Everything You Recycle?

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Is recycling plastic after every use in one bin, paper in another and wet waste in a third, worth it? When your trash man picks up your garbage where do all the recyclables really go? Makes you wonder if they go to a recycling and remanufacturing company or do these recycling trucks sneakily drive to the landfill at night.

Recycling has been a highly successful pubic relations campaign to get products that are not biodegradable out of landfills. This campaign requires that you first separate each type of recyclable material. However, now you can utilize single-stream collection and put all your recyclables in one receptacle.

The change in recycling habits is really a result of technology. Better equipment has been developed that sorts through recycle bins. Using magnets and electric currents, technology separates different metals and paper and plastic are separated using infrared lasers.

Unless you take the time to follow recyclables through the entire process from pickup to remanufacturing you really cannot say for certain whether or not your materials are being recycled. It logical to think that they are, but there are still lingering questions.

Recyclables are considered commodities or goods that can be sold or resold. Glass and plastic bottles, cans, plus newspaper and cardboard are processed into raw materials and sold to manufactures to make different products. There are more and more manufacturers buying recycled raw products to reproduce different commodities.


Sorting Recycled Material

Recyclable materials that are sold to manufacturers must meet certain demands. Items you are recycling cannot have impurities and must be clean. If you think you are recycling your pizza box, think again. The grease and left over residues of food will render that box unfit for recycling. If you are throwing away PVC pipes and broken glass, recycling companies will refuse to handle either of these products.

Printer cartridges are examples of potential recycled materials. Printer ink manufacturers give rebates and coupons to customers who bring in used printer ink cartridges. However, the most valuable part of an ink cartridge is the ink. After removing the last little drops and powder from cartridges, the ink is repackaged and sold. Cartridges themselves are discarded.


Types of Recyclables

Recycling cars is a big industry. You can recycle your junk cars at yards where vehicles are crushed and sold as scrap metal. You can pocket almost $500 a car depending on the metal and the usable parts.

Before recycling a car, remove the tires and clean the car. Take particular care to remove anything that may have fallen into cracks. You might find loose change and jewelry or other valuable in your junk car. Check the glove box for old receipts that could have identifying information.

How do you recycle your old cell phone? Wipe your phone’s memory of all personal data and phone numbers plus notes and purchase plans. Call your provider and check into their recycling programs. You can also call general recyclers who will take your old phone, pay you a certain percentage and either refurbish or crush your phone into usable parts.

Glasses and eyewear should always be donated rather than recycled. If you would rather recycle eyewear, smash the glass to bits, treat the frames as plastic, and throw frames in bins reserved for plastics.

When recycling, make sure all items are somewhat clean. Learn to turn clothing inside out before recycling and make sure you clear all memory banks before recycling old cell phones and computer equipment. Avoid throwing away plastics in the landfill, and by all means use cloth or recyclable bags for groceries.

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    Greener Ideal strives to help you live your life in more sustainable ways with green living tips, healthy recipes and commentary on the latest environment news. The views expressed by guest authors are their own and may not reflect those of Greener Ideal.

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