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  • The Recycling Journey of the Plastic Beverage Bottle

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

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    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.

  • Staying GREEN on the Fourth of July!!

    This Fourth of July, make sure you and your fellow party goers remember to keep Mother Nature in mind while you celebrate.

    The Fourth of July is right around the corner! Summer’s hottest holiday will no doubt call for backyard barbecuing, fireworks and maybe even a dip in the pool.

    Here’s how to throw a little green into your mix of red, white and blue.

    1. Ditch the disposable party ware

    They’re popular and easy. Disposable plates, cups and utensils are convenient for parties with a lot of guests. The down side; they’re not so convenient for the environment.

    To avoid this, do your best to use normal tableware that can just be washed and reused. If you must go the disposable route, clean them up (they’re often washable) and use them at your next big gathering.

    We also love the “bring your own plate” theme. The hodgepodge of different dishes can serve as talking points at your party. An added bonus: Turn it into a dish swap. Bring your own dish and leave with a different plate for your collection.

    The same idea works for glassware. Instead of charging a “keg fee,” a party-goer’s ticket is his or her own glass.

    2. Get outside!

    The best way to reduce your party’s footprint is to calculate its energy usage. The No. 1 way to avoid added costs to your electric bill is to utilize the outdoors – perfect lighting, temperature and truly inherent green setting.

    Host your barbecue at midday when the light is bright and fills your crowd with energy. Or fight soaring temperatures and take advantage of the cooler evening weather. It’s a great way to enjoy nature and reduce the energy costs of using indoor facilities.

    3. Use propane for grilling

    Before diving into this one, we want to point out that we are not trying to step on any grillmaster’s toes. The debate between charcoal and propane is a tough one: Which one produces more flavor? Which is cheaper, faster? And most importantly, which is more eco-friendly?

    We consulted a recent study by Environment Impact Assessment Review to answer this one. Drum roll, please…

    According to the study, “the overwhelming factors are that as a fuel, LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) is dramatically more efficient than charcoal in its production and considerably more efficient in cooking.”

    The two grilling methods were defined by their overall footprint, with charcoal using 998 kg of CO2, almost three times more than propane, which weighed in at 349 kg.

    ScienceDaily reports that as fuel, LPG is “dramatically more efficient than charcoal in its production.” When purchasing a propane tank, make sure there is a trade-in option. Most retailers will let you bring in an empty tank in exchange for a decent discount on your next tank.

    4. Save (and reuse) your decorations

    If you’ve hosted Independence Day celebrations before, you know the décor is often the same: streamers, party favors and table toppers all in bold red, white and blue.

    Sadly, most people often use these decorations once and then throw them out. But they can be reused year after year! So, this year, after the party’s over, take the time to store and save your decorations. You or someone you know can use them again next year, which helps to save on a bit of unneeded trash.

    5. Opt for greener fireworks

    Fireworks are hardly an environmentally friendly activity, but they’re an unwavering Fourth of July tradition. If you’re setting off your own fireworks this year, be sure to use fireworks rich in nitrogen. They often cost a bit more but put out less smoke into the environment.

    Another option is to gather your group and go see your local fireworks display. It’s a great way to see a much bigger fireworks show and negates you from harming the environment with your own personal display.

    6. Gather in groups

    This may seem like a no-brainer for such a popular holiday, but the larger a group you gather (preferably outdoors), the less energy you use at individual parties that may take place indoors. Plus, the more people to help prepare and purchase food, the less of a cost it is to each individual. Just make sure your fellow party goers know these green tips!

    7. Use large water containers

    Plastic water bottles are convenient, but like other disposable goods, they can add up fast. In lieu of individual plastic bottles, store water for your family or guests in large containers so they can re-fill their reusable water bottles or reusable cups. If you must use plastic water bottles, be sure to encourage your guests to recycle them.

    8. Don’t forget to recycle

    One of the easiest ways to go green is to recycle your waste. So be sure to put a clearly marked bin out at your party.

    If you did opt for disposable dinnerware, remember that those plastic plates, cups and utensils can be recycled. Paper plates will have to be thrown out or composted due to food residue.

    If you’re unsure about recycling specific materials in your area, we’ve got you covered. Use Earth911 to find local recycling centers for your common party waste, such as plastic bottles, aluminum cans and glass bottles.

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