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Monthly Archives: July 2013

  • The Recycling Journey of the Plastic Beverage Bottle

    SOURCE: http://plasticsmakeitpossible.com/2011/10/the-recycling-journey-of-the-plastic-beverage-bottle/


    You probably know that recycling a plastic beverage bottle recaptures its value and keeps it out of the local landfill. You may also know that the bottle can live a second life in a container, carpeting, and even clothing.

    But have you ever wondered exactly how the plastic bottle that you toss in the recycling bin becomes a new T-shirt or rug?

    The transformation from beverage bottle to new product begins at a recycling facility that receives large bales of used plastic bottles. The bottles are compressed into bales to reduce transportation costs and energy use – bales can weigh up to 1,200 pounds and contain up to 7,200 bottles. These bottles already have been pre-sorted, so each bale should contain only one type of plastic: polyethylene teraphthalate (PET), the type of plastic most commonly used to make soda, water, juice, sport drink and other beverage bottles.

    At the recycling facility, the bales are torn apart by a machine called a bale breaker. The separated bottles then are run under a magnet that attracts any metal pieces that may have mistakenly come along for the ride. After that, the bottles are run through a washing machine that works just like the home version – only it’s many times larger, of course. The soapy water removes the labels from the bottles as well as dirt and debris.

    The next step: separating the bottles from the bottle caps that typically are made of polypropylene and can be recycled separately. But if you’re imagining hundreds of workers endlessly unscrewing caps from bottles, don’t worry—there’s a much more efficient method. First, the bottles and caps are ground into small flakes that are placed in a large tank of water. Since PET and polypropylene have different densities, the bottle flakes sink in water while the cap flakes float. This makes it possible to separate the two plastics for recycling.

    After the PET flakes head through another wash cycle to remove any leftover dirt, they pass through an extruder. This machine heats up the flakes until they combine and become gooey… and then pushes the plastic through screens to create long, tubular strands of plastic, kind of like that soft clay “spaghetti” press you used as a kid. The strands are cooled and hardened in water, chopped into pellets… and then shipped to companies that make a variety of plastic products, including new bottles.

    If the recycled PET is going to be made into fabric, the pellets will be melted down and pushed through an extruder once again – but this time the strands will be stretched into a very fine, soft thread (fiber). This thread then can be woven into versatile fabrics that you’d never guess were made from recycled plastic bottles.

    The demand for recycled plastics continues to grow, which makes collecting these bottles more and more important. And people have responded – Americans now recycle more than one and a half billion pounds of plastic each year from soda bottles alone!  You can do your part: replace bottle caps after use, recycle at home, hang on to empty bottles until there’s a recycling bin handy, and encourage your friends to do the same.

  • 7 Ways to Save Money Recycling

    7 Ways to Save Money Recycling

    Recycle Money

    Reposted from http://www.1stmarinerbank.com/blog/post/2013/04/22/7-Ways-to-Save-Money-Recycling.aspx Levin, S. 2013. 7 Ways to Save Money Recycling. 

    We recycle because it helps reduce waste and pollution. We recycle because it’s good for the environment. We recycle to make the world a better place for future generations. These are all good, selfless reasons to recycle, which is why many of us do it. But have you ever thought about what recycling can do specifically for YOU? Why not be kind to the environment AND save money recycling at the same time? Here are 7 ways you can do this:

    1) Refill or return empty ink cartridges.

    Bring your empty printer cartridges into participating Walgreens and they will refill them for $12.99 – generally much cheaper than purchasing a new cartridge. Alternatively, Office Depot and Staples give you member rewards dollars for bringing in your empty ink cartridges.

    2) Put your old compact discs to good use.

    Do you have a huge stack of old CDs from back in the day, before the age of iPods, smartphones and music streaming? They make great reflectors and can easily be attached to a child’s bike.

    3) Trade in your old electronics.

    Not sure what to do with your old cell phones and computers? Several retailers including Best Buy, Wal-Mart and Target have trade-in programs in which you receive store credit for bringing in your old small electronics.

    4) Recycle your wrapping paper.

    After being used to wrap gifts, wrapping paper can then be used for things like textbook covers, scratch paper for making grocery lists and lots of other things that you would normally purchase.

    5) Create your own Tupperware.

    Before purchasing Tupperware, see what you can get out of old containers (yogurt, Chinese take-out, etc.) You might not get every shape and size you need, but it’s a good place to start!

    6) Create new things out of your old clothes.

    Whether your clothes no longer fit or have just lost their appeal, as long as the fabric is still in good shape you can make accessories such as bags or wallets. If this sounds too advanced for you, simply cut old jeans into shorts or use your old clothes as dust rags.

    7) Join the Freecycle Network and get free stuff.

    The Freecyle Network is a nonprofit movement of people dedicated to keeping quality items out of landfills. Join the group in your location for free and post items that you are trying to get rid of, as well as items you are looking for. You can often find things like furniture that people are trying to get rid of before a move and old toys from people whose children outgrew them.

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