How does this thing called “recycling” work?

10.22.2012 · Posted in Uncategorized

Recycle recycle recycle! You hear that word everywhere nowadays. To support a more eco-friendly world, people everywhere are being advised to recycle plastic, paper, and metal materials that no longer have a use. But what happens after that Poland Springs bottle has been placed into the recycling bin?
Let’s focus on the recycling of plastic disposable water bottles, such as the Poland Springs bottle previously mentioned. Plastic bottles must go through a series of steps in order to be made into a new product. First, they go through the process of bailing. This is where the bottles are taken to a materials recovery facility (MRF) and are condensed into huge dense blocks, or “bails.” These bails can weigh as much as 1,200 pounds and can contain as many as 9,600 plastic bottles. The next step is sorting, in which the bails are shipped to plastics reclaimer and then ripped apart by a special machine. The pieces ripped off of the bail are then sorted into different groups based on the color and resin of the plastic, and then sent through a machine that shreds them into millions of little flakes.
These flakes are then thoroughly washed to remove any impurities, and then dried and melted. The chunks of melted plastic are then formed into flakes and sold into end markets to be made into new products, such as more plastic water bottles.
Some factories even take the recycline one step further! You know that thin plastic-like material that is used as insulation in jackets? Well, some of the plastic is shipped to factories that spin the plastic like cotton candy to weave this type of fabric commonly found in jackets, carpets, and blankets.
So next time you are about to throw a plastic water bottle away, think of all the products that could result if you recycled instead! Or better yet – simply do not use disposable plastic water bottles. Even though recycling is an amazing thing, the factories and transportation facilities that are involved in the process use a lot of energy. Some of this energy could be spared if more people used reusable water bottles instead. So the motto of the day is: do not use disposable water bottles. But if you must – RECYCLE!

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