Recycling

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The international recycling symbol.

Recycling means turning the materials from waste into something new. Glass, paper, plastic, and metals such as aluminum and steel are all commonly recycled. Dead plants, fruit and vegetable scraps can be recycled through composting. It is important, however, not to confuse recycling with reusing, which is where old things, such as clothes, are donated or given a new use instead of being thrown out.

One reason that people give for recycling is that it reduces trash in landfills. Another reason people recycle is to reduce the amount of raw materials and energy used in making things. Most of the time, it takes less energy to recycle trash than to throw it away, The Economist says. Recycling can reduce your carbon footprint and it would help to minimize the size of landfills around the world.

The 3 R's are Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle.

Sitting on trash: plastic recycling[change | change source]

Most people make about two kilograms of waste (trash) every day, and about 7% of this waste is made up of plastic products that can be recycled. Today, plastic can be recycled into products like picnic tables, park benches, and even high-chairs.[1]

Sort it out[change | change source]

First, plastic is collected and taken to a recycling center, where it is sorted out. When plastic is sorted out, symbols have to be printed on every recyclable plastic product used. There are two types of plastic: polyethylene and polymer. There are two kinds of polyethylene plastic, too: high density polyethylene (HDPE), and low density polyethylene (LDPE). HDPE plastic is usually used to make furniture, and LDPE plastic are usually things like milk jugs, plastic and grocery bags.

Grinding washing[change | change source]

HDPE plastic is ground into a small powder.[1] LDPE plastic, which are usually thin films, need to be ground by a special machine.[1] After that, both plastics are washed with hot water and detergent.[1] Dirt and other things, like labels, are taken off.[1] After the wash, the powder is dried with hot air.[1]

Sometimes, the powder is sold. But other times, the powder is heated, colored, and then put into a pelletizer.[1] The pelletizer makes the powder into little pellets, which are bought by a company that shapes the pellets into pieces of plastic "wood".[1] This plastic wood is used to make flowerpots, trash cans, pipes, picnic tables, benches, toys, mats, and many other things.[1]

Related pages[change | change source]

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 Earth Science. United States of America: Holt, Rinehart and Winston. 2001. pp. 211. ISBN 0-03-055667-8 .