According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), “recycling is the process of collecting and processing materials that would otherwise be thrown away as trash and turning them into new products” (EPA). Recycling includes several steps which include: collection, processing, manufacturing, and reselling goods made of recycled materials. The processing of recyclable items occurs through the use of science and technology and allows the recycled items to be turned into a new product. Recycling is held out to be beneficial to the environment and it does have a number of environmental advantages.
After recyclable items are collected, they are sent to recycling facilities where they are sorted cleaned and processed. Different recyclables are processed different ways. For example, old newspapers are sent to paper mills to be recycled. “At the paper mill, de-inking facilities separate ink from the newspaper fibers through a chemical washing process. A slusher turns old paper into pulp, and detergent dissolves and carries the ink away” (“The Recycling Process After Collection”). The pulp is then sent through screens to catch and remove dirt and tape. Next, the pulp is bleached, mixed with wood chips, poured onto a wire so the water can drain, and fed through steam heated rollers so that it forms a continuous sheet of paper (“The Recycling Process After Collection”). Cardboard goes through a similar process to be recycled. Glass is recycled by breaking it into tiny pieces, cullets, and separating out other particles with magnets, screens, and a vacuum system (“The Recycling Process After Collection”). “The cullet then is blended in measured amounts with silica sand, soda ash, and limestone, and placed in a furnace which melts it into molten glass (“The Recycling Process After Collection”). Aluminum can go through a process similar to this one to be recycled. There is also a recycling process for tin cans, motor oil, and other recyclable products.
After items that have been collected to be recycled have gone through the recycling process, they can then be turned into other items. “A recycled plastic soda bottle is chipped, melted, and made into fiber, which becomes a jacket or sleeping bag stuffing” (“The Recycling Process”). The amount of old material that a new product contains is called recycled content (“The Recycling Process). The recycled content in products that people buy at the store today can range anywhere from zero to 100%and is usually clearly denoted on the packaging of items that contain recycled materials.
Recycling is touted as being a significant benefit to the environment. According to the EPA recycling benefits the environment by: reducing the amount of waste that is being sent to landfills and incinerators; helping to conserve natural resources such as wood, water, and minerals, and reducing pollution, helping to conserve energy (EPA). It is important for the amount of waste that is sent to landfills to be reduced because non-biodegradable product can remain in a landfill indefinitely creating a shortage of space to dump new trash. Furthermore, it decreases the number of trees that need to be cut down to make new paper.
Recycling is a process that involves several steps to turn old products into new ones. The processing step separates the primary material that is being recycled from other added materials and recompiled it to be placed in items which contain a various percentage of recycled material. It offers a number of benefits for the environment including conserving energy, saving landfill space, reducing pollution and conserving raw materials.
- EPA. “Recycling Basics.” Environmental Protection Agency. 7 April 2016. Web. 19 April 2016.
- “The Recycling Process After Collection.” UOregon.edu. 2016. Web. 19 April 2016.
- “The Recycling Process: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.” Cuyahoga County Solid Waste Management District. 2016. Web. 19 April 2016.