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Recycling

There are several different ways in which to dispose of goods in more environmentally friendly way than normal refuse collection which ends up in a landfill site.

Biodegradable plastic glasses materials production and recycling diagram

Recycling

Recycling is basically making new out of old. You can either 'up-cycle', which is making products of an equal or better grade that the original material, or 'down-cycle', where products are made back into a lower grade.

Plastic Recycling

To recycle plastic, the product is sorted, shredded, washed, melted and then made into pellets. The pellets of plastic can then be remoulded into new products. Our RPET smoothie bottles are a good example of up-cycling, as they are made from recycled PET plastic. There are difficulties in recycling plastics though. Every type of plastic has a different molecular make up, and therefore would have to be recycled in a slightly different way, or made into a group 7 mixed plastic. ID's are put onto most plastics in order for the consumer to identify the product and sort it accordingly.

Plastic materials identification marks diagram

Paper Recycling

Paper is one of the easiest product to recycled. It is sorted and graded, pulped with water, screened and cleaned and then made into new paper products. Paper is an example of a material that is down-cycled. Each time it is pulped, it loses some of its integrity, so more and more new pulp needs to be added. Some products of paper recycling are newspaper, paperboard and tissue paper. It is a fast process, and can take approximately 7 days for office paper to become a newspaper.

Some types of paper a difficult or recycle, or are unable to be recycled. These include some coated paper, like normal waxed paper, and wrapping paper. Wrapping paper can sometime be mixed in with cardboard recycling, but as it is of such a low grade of paper to begin with, and often very dyed, it often cannot be recycled.

Composting

Composting is a process whereby organic matter is decomposed into compost. It needs five key elements in order for it to work properly:

  1. Air - Air is needed to aerobic composting. Oxygen is needed for many of the bacteria and organisms, which are key to composting.
  2. Moisture - Another key factor for living organisms. Moisture levels should be between 40-60%. Lower and the bacteria become dormant, higher and the water will use the oxygen needed and the organisms can suffocate.
  3. Temperature - Warm temperatures are neded to keep the compost heap moist and a an optimum level for organisms and bacteria. 30-60 degrees C is ideal. Any higher or lower and rates of composting will reduce.
  4. Microorganisms - Bacteria and Fungi. They are chemical decomposers as they change and breakdown the chemistry of organic waste.
  5. Macroorganisms - Larger organisms including arthropods and insects. They digest and miz the organic matter into more manageable material for microorganisms.

All of our bagasse products and paper bio boxes can be composted in a domestic garden compost heap.

Incineration

The combustion of organic matter. It converts the waste into ash, gases, particulates and heat, which can then in turn be used to generate power, It can reduce mass by around 85%, so while it doesnt replace landfills, it can significantly reduce the volume.

Bioreactive Landfills

Traditional landfills are when waste is buried in the ground. This can cause many problems, including unpredictable explosions of methane and leachate (fluids from landfills containing toxins) getting into ground water and polluting it.

Bioreactor landfills involve reintroducing collected leachate and water to maintain moisture levels. This encourages composting within the site, which minimises harmful emissions and can help to decrease the volume of the site. Also, after a certain amount of decomposition, the land is safe enough to be reclaimed for reforestation or parks.

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