What are Recyclable Materials?

Recycling turns materials that would otherwise become waste into valuable resources. Collecting used bottles, cans, and newspapers and taking them to the curb or to a collection facility is just the first in a series of steps that generates a host of financial, environmental, and social returns. Some of these benefits accrue locally as well as globally.

Recycling is processing used materials (waste) into new products to prevent waste of potentially useful materials, reduce the consumption of fresh raw materials, reduce energy usage, reduce air pollution (from incineration) and water pollution (from landfilling) by reducing the need for “conventional” waste disposal, and lower greenhouse gas emissions as compared to virgin production. Recycling is a key component of modern waste reduction and is the third component of the “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” waste hierarchy.

Recyclable materials include many kinds of glass, paper, metal, plastic, textiles, and electronics. Materials to be recycled are either brought to a collection center or picked up from the curbside, then sorted, cleaned, and reprocessed into new materials bound for manufacturing.

PAPER

  • About 12 percent of Metro Manila’s solid waste is paper. Unlike metal or glass, paper can only be recycled five to seven times before the wood fibers become too short and brittle to be made into new paper. Some types are harder to recycle than others. Papers that are waxed, pasted, gummed, or coated with plastic or aluminum foil are usually not recycled because the process is too expensive.

How much it sells for (2007 data):

  • White paper (used bond paper, computer paper, used notebooks) – P8.00/kg
  • Newsprint (newspapers and magazines) – P5.50/kg
  • Cardboard boxes – P2.50 to 3.50/kg
  • Mixed paper – P1.00/kg

How to prepare for recycling:

  • Sort the paper according to type: white paper (bond paper), newspapers, cardboard, and mixed or colored paper. Keep it dry and free from contaminants such as food, plastic, metal and other trash, as contaminated paper cannot be recycled.

How it is recycled:

  • The used paper is repulped, or broken down into smaller pieces and mixed with water. The pulp is then passed through a screen and cleaned to remove contaminants. It is then deinked, refined, bleached and color stripped. After this, it is mixed with virgin pulp to make new paper.

Products:

  • Most recovered paper is recycled back into paper and paperboard products. Recovered paper is generally recycled into a grade similar to, or of lower quality than, the grade of the original product. For example, old corrugated boxes are used to make new recycled corrugated boxes. Recovered printing and writing paper can be used to make new recycled copy paper.
  • Recycled pulp can be used in a variety of other products, such as egg cartons, fruit trays, ceiling and wall insulation, paint filler, and roofing.

What is saved:

  • Producing recycled paper consumes between 28 to 70 percent less energy and uses less water than producing virgin paper. A ton of paper made from recycled fibers instead of virgin fibers conserves: 7,000 gallons of water, 17 to 31 trees, and 4,000 Kwh of electricity.

GLASS

  • Glass constitutes 3 percent of the solid waste produced in Metro Manila. Unlike paper, glass jars and bottles can be recycled over and over again. The glass doesn’t wear out.

How much it sells for:

  • Softdrink bottles – P45.00 to P60.00/case
  • Assorted bottles – P0.75 to P2.00/pc

How to prepare for recycling:

  • Remove the lids or caps of glass jars and bottles and rinse them with water. Segregate them by color. Not all glass products are recyclable. Don’t mix light bulbs, ceramics, glass mirrors, windowpanes, and dishes with glass jars and bottles as they are not made of the same materials.

How it is recycled:  Used glass is melted, formed and annealed to make new glass.

Products:  Used glass is made into new glass jars and bottles or into other glass products such as fiberglass insulation.

What is saved:

  • Recycled glass uses 40 percent less energy than making products from all new materials. It saves energy because crushed glass, called cullet, melts at a lower temperature than the raw materials (sand, soda ash, and limestone) used to make new glass.

PLASTICS

  • Plastics account for 25 percent of Metro Manila’s solid waste. It is the most visible type of solid waste and takes several hundred years before it breaks down at the landfill. But most plastics can be recycled, with Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) and High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) being the most commonly recycled.

How much it sells for:

  • PET bottles – P15.00/kg
  • Disposable cups – P10.00/kg
  • Plastic gallons – P8.00/kg
  • Assorted plastics – P5.00/kg

How to prepare for recycling:

Wash plastic containers and squash if possible. Sort the plastics according to type, by checking the resin identification code (arrows forming a triangular shape with a number in the middle) to learn what kind of plastic it is. The following is the complete list of codes:

  • PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate Mineral)- water and beverage bottles, mouthwash bottles
  • HDPE (High Density Polyethylene)- Milk jugs, trash bags, detergent bottles.
  • PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride)- Cooking oil bottles, food trays, cling film
  • LDPE (Low Density Polyethylene)- Grocery bags, produce bags, food wrap, bread bags
  • PP (Polypropylene)- Yogurt containers, shampoo bottles, straws, margarine tubs, diapers, microwaveable meal trays
  • PS (Polystyrene)- Hot beverage cups, take-home boxes, egg cartons, meat trays, CD cases, protective packaging for electronic goods and toys
  • OTHER – All other types of plastics or packaging made from more than one type of plastic (example: melamine)

How it is recycled:

  • Plastics are washed, chopped into flakes, and fed into an extruder, where heat and pressure melt the plastic. The molten plastic is then formed into strands, which are then chopped into uniform pellets. These plastic pellets are then sold to manufacturing companies who can use these as raw material for new products.

Products:

  • The wide range of products made from recycled plastic include: polyethylene bin liners and plastic bags; PVC sewer pipes, flooring and window frames; building insulation boards; video and compact disc cassette cases; fencing and garden furniture; fleeces; fibre filling for sleeping bags and duvets; and a variety of office accessories.

What is saved:

  • Recycling plastic conserves nonrenewable fossil fuels (plastic production uses eight percent of the world’s oil production); reduces consumption of energy; reduces amounts of solid waste going to landfill; and reduces emissions of carbon-dioxide (CO2), nitrogen-oxide (NO) and sulphur-dioxide (SO2).

METALS

  • Metals constitute five percent of waste in Metro Manila. All metals can be recycled, with aluminum and steel being the most common. Metals can be recycled indefinitely without losing any of their properties. Other metals such as copper, gold, silver and brass are rarely thrown into the trash because of their value.

How much it sells for:

  • Aluminum cans – P55.00/kg
  • Tin (steel) cans* – P3.00/kg

How to prepare for recycling:

  • Sort scrap metal into ferrous and nonferrous metals. Ferrous scrap is made of iron and steel. This can come from cars, household appliances, steel beams, railroad tracks, ships, or food packaging and other containers. Nonferrous scrap include aluminum (including foil and cans), copper, lead, zinc, nickel, titanium, cobalt, chromium, and precious metals. Although there is less nonferrous scrap than ferrous scrap, it is often worth more financially.

How it is recycled:

  • Steel and aluminum scrap are usually melted in a furnace and then formed into sheets.
    These are then used as raw materials for various products.

Products:

  • Aluminum cans are usually recycled into new aluminum cans. Recycled steel cans can be made into new cars, girders for buildings, or new food cans.

What is saved:

  • Steel and aluminum recycling is much more energy efficient and cost effective than primary production of these metals. Every ton of recycled steel packaging saves 1.5 tons of iron ore; 0.5 tons of coal; and 40 percent of the water and 75 percent of the energy needed to make steel from virgin material. Recycling aluminum, meanwhile, requires only 5 percent of the energy and produces only 5 percent of the CO2 emissions of primary production.

For more recyclable materials, visit www.recycling-guide.org.uk

source: epa.gov, wikipedia.org. taoshelter.tao-pilipinas.org

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