Em!
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Em! asked in EnvironmentGreen Living · 1 decade ago

How exactly does recycling work?

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  • 1 decade ago
    Best answer

    The word 'recycle' means not wasting our natural resources. I feel this word has been commercially overused that it has lost it's original meaning and purpose. We need to recycle becase our earth's natural resources are exhausted and our rubbish are getting too much that we don't have any space for them! Don't be fooled by commercials mis-using the name 'recycled products' and make you buy unneccessarily! Think about if you really need a new item, if not, use the old one, or simply forgo buying one. As for every new product designed and produced, it has to make sure that the end product's material can be recycled in a cost efficient way. You noticed the three arrows forming a triangle shape at the bottom or back of some products, that means those are able to be recycled. I read somewhere that Amsterdam recycles >70% of it's waste, and it is a country worth studying. By the way, Amsterdam is also the headquarter of Greenpeace International that strives to protect our environment.

    Many items can be recycled. Example, plastic comes from crude oil deep in earth. It goes through various processes (heat + chemical reactions) to form long chain of polymers call plastic. It takes 1000 over years for plastic to degrade. The long years needed for plastic to degrade is one reason why plastic is the number one product that need recycling, the other reason may be the rise in oil price, or rather the dimishing oil in our earth due to over drilling. Recycling of plastic may cost more time and money in terms of more man power needed in collecting the used plastic, and more processes are involved in breaking down the polymer and 're-chain' them into usable ones. But with time and advance in technology, the processes will be improved and refined. However, the collection of used plastic requires people to have the right mind-set and throw what can be recycled and what not into the right bin.

    Another example is paper and wood. They comes from trees, and trees help balance the ecosystems in terms of oxygen/carbon dioxide levels. Not only that, it is food and home for many species of animals. Ever since the commercialization of paper began, people over-cut trees to the point of extinction. Only recently human realised this mistake and begin reforesation. Sadly, the original forests can never be remake again.

    Besides the above two common items, another 'non-visible' item is energy, which is under the world's top most important item to conserve. Energy comes from burning of fuels, and from more 'environmentally friendly'(depending on how the sources are extracted) sources like wind, water (hydro) and sun (solar). Again, due to increase in oil price, many countries are looking into the green sources. Recycling of energy takes the form of conservation. For end users, that means switching off whenever not in use of the electronic items. Keeping electronics in top working conditions will save the amount of energy used too.

    Electronic items like computer, tv, etc can be recycled but not many companies want to do that because it is costly and not commercially viable. Hence, we the end users can play a part by prolonging our electronics' life span. Do maintain them regularly, and repair them whenever possible instead of throwing away.

    Clothes/garments are made of either man-made or natural fabrics. Examples are cotton, linen, silk and wool for natural; and polyester, acetate, and nylon for man-made fabrics. Natural ones come from plants, except for silk which is from worms. As for man-made, again, it comes from crude oil/chemicals. So, it is important to recycle clothes as well as they uses natural resources. I used to study fashion design and worked in the garment industry for many years, until it comes a time when I realise tons and tons of garments are generated and dumped, and this means so much natural resources wasted just like that. Do we really need to wear so many clothings? True beauty is in the mind and body, not the clothes. We just have to dress appropriately and suit our individual styles, but we do not need to change our dressings all the time.

    Water is also important source that many countries are recycling. The one I know of is treatment of home or industrial waste water and reuse them for flushing toilets, or for some more advanced countries, drinking water! One way home users can recycle water is use a basin to wash face, a cup to brush teeth, instead of using hands to cup the water while the tap is running all the while. Property developers play a big part in making sure that the buildings or houses built come with water recycling system, whereby the used water is reuse back as flushing water at least once before going into the nation's treatment plant.

    Not sure if this is the answer you are looking for, but your question sure prompt me to think about all the above. Conclusively, whether recycling works depend on consumers and of course the individual organizations and government to work together.

  • 1 decade ago

    depends on what you're recycling...

    paper usually has to have ink removed chemically

    plastics have to have oil added and some chemical process done. it then hardens and becomes a high grade of plastic (i.e. a "1" becomes a "2")

    aluminum is the easiest to recycle. it's 100% reusable. as far as i know, they just remelt and reshape it.

    Source(s): head of my high school recycling program
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