What waste can be recycled?
How to maintain the quality of my garbage so that it can be recycled to its full potential?
What are the recycled resulting products of my waste?
As we have mentioned in our previous posts: How to Sort Your Waste–The Waste4Change Way and 5 Waste Sorting Simple Tips, different countries have different technologies available in processing recyclables, so what is considered as recyclables/non-recyclables in one place might differ from the other.
Table of contents
This post will act as an informative overview of your waste recycling products.
Plastics products based on types (read also: 7 Types of Plastic that You Need to Know https://waste4change.com/blog/7-types-plastic-need-know/):
- PET, ex: disposable water bottles
- HDPE, ex: plastic bottle lid
- PVC, ex: PVC pipes, plastic straw
- LDPE, ex: retail plastic bags
- PP, ex: ketchup bottles, cosmetic container
- Styrofoam/Polystyrene, ex: disposable plates and food packaging, egg cartons
- Other Platic Types, ex: water gallon, baby feeding bottle. Plastic #7 is considered as difficult-to-recycle material.
All of those plastic waste will be cleaned, rinsed and chopped to become plastic pellets of lower grade and processed into a much lower quality plastic recycled products such as recycling bin, egg cartons, vents, foam packing, insulation, pens, furniture, carpet, paneling, flooring, speedbumps, cleaning tools, and many more.
Unlike other material such as plastic and paper, glass is one of the materials that only experience a minimum amount of quality degradation after recycling (source: http://www.gpi.org/recycling/glass-recycling-facts). That is why the use of glass materials is highly recommended if you are interested in further reducing the amount of waste collected in the landfill.
Glass can be recycled into:
- Another glass bottle, jars, container.
- Ingredient in concrete
- Ingredient in roadway reflective paint
- Sand on beaches that have been washed away by erosion
- Ceramic Tiles
- Picture frames
- Friction for matches and ammunition
- Used as abrasives for sand-blasting
Metals can be recycled repeatedly without altering their properties. According to the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI), steel is the most recycled material on the planet.
The other highly recycled metals include aluminum, copper, silver, brass, and gold (source: https://www.thebalancesmb.com/an-introduction-to-metal-recycling-4057469)
There are 2 types of metal: ferrous and non-ferrous. Ferrous metals are combinations of iron with carbon. Some common ferrous metals include carbon steel, alloy steel, wrought iron, and cast iron. On the other hand, non-ferrous metals include aluminum, copper, lead, zinc, and tin. Precious metals are non-ferrous.
The most common precious metals include gold, platinum, silver, iridium, and palladium.
The recycling products of two most recycled metals are:
- Soda cans
- Auto parts
- Tin cans
- Auto parts
- Bridge parts
- Torn-down buildings
Paper can only be recycled several times before it’s deemed difficult to recycle. The fiber in the paper gets shorter every time it passes the recycling process.
In addition to that, paper is easily contaminated by oil, food waste, or other materials. Because of those qualities, the resulting products of recycled paper are likely to be declining in quality.
Several types of paper that most likely difficult to recycle:
- Paper towel
- Pizza cardboard that has been soiled by oil and ketchup
- Fax paper
- Wet paper
The resulting products of recycled paper:
- Office paper
- Paper towel and napkins
- Toilet paper and tissues
- Greeting cards
- Magazines & Newspaper
A big part of our waste consists of organic waste. It’s easily degradable in nature, but if it’s not treated correctly, it could affect us some negative impacts.
Organic waste that is mixed with non-organic waste and trapped between other waste in the landfill could produce methane gas that is easily flammable, creating a dangerous explosion.
Methane gas is also a type of Greenhouse Gas (GHG) which could damage our ozone layer if it’s released to the environment.
There are many methods available to process your organic waste, such as composting, vermicomposting, biopori hole. Several recycling products of your organic waste are:
- Animal feed
Due to its hazardous and toxic component, electronic waste should not be disposed of carelessly.
The leakage of its hazardous component could contaminate the soil and water in nature, so items such as broken washing machine, television, microwave, handphone, USB cable, earphone, headset, charger, computer, camera, refrigerator, and other kitchen appliances should be kept in a safe place before distributed to the recycling agent or the seller to be processed.
Electronic waste will be dissected and processed according to its material types. The metal components will be distributed to the metal recycling agents, plastic components will be chopped into plastic pellet, so does the glass parts.
Hazardous & Toxic Waste (B3)
Hazardous & Toxic Waste (B3) should be separated and bagged individually. Prepare separate bin for batteries and another bin for lightbulb, kept away from fire source and distribute it to your nearest professional recycling agents, trusted recycling center, or to the seller (if they’re willing to accept their own used products).
Items that considered as hazardous and toxic waste are batteries, lightbulb, spray can, and pesticide.
Used Cooking Oil / Waste Oil / Vegetable Oil
Don’t throw your used cooking oil carelessly! Used cooking oil could work as a contaminant to the other waste, so it’s best to keep your used cooking oil in a closed glass/metal container before you distribute it to your local recycling agents.
Used cooking oil is more likely to be recycled into:
Items made from rubber such as tire and rubber gloves could be processed into carpet, shoe, or road concrete. Rubber is easily flammable, so it’s best to keep it away from heat and fire source.
Things such as unused furniture are most likely be processed into paper products, building material, and composite wood. Wood is easily flammable, so it’s best to keep it away from heat and fire source.
Though recyclable, medical waste must be collected and processed by a licensed medical waste hauler. Things like syringe, blood, human parts, expired medicine, and many other medical wastes, if not handled properly, could cause serious health risks.
Technically, all materials in this world are recyclables, but for practical purposes, only those that couldn’t be recycled as easily as any other materials are categorized as residue or residual waste.
There are several reasons why an item is categorized as difficult to recycle / residual:
- Could cause engine damages
- Could contaminate other materials during the recycling process
- Could cause serious production problems – difficult to separate, difficult to process
- A recycled product already and therefore cannot be recycled further, especially if the items are made from paper or plastic
- The costs associated with the recycling process are too high
Several items that are considered as difficult-to-recycle items:
- Cotton pad
- Wet tissue
- Paper towel
- Cotton bud
- Toilet paper
- Coconut shell
- Durian shell
- Plastic sachet
- Laminated packagings/refill pouches
It’s strongly advised to reduce the use of items above due its difficult-to-recycle quality. With a certain amount of money, your residual waste could be recycled as ingredients and eco-friendly fuels for the local industry.
Contact Waste4Change if you wish to know more about the processing of residual and other waste, or if you have questions about recycling.