Recycling is the process for converting used materials in to new products for the prevention of producing waste. This leads to the lessened consumption of fresh material for the production of new material, reduction of use of energy, reduction of air pollution and water pollution. This process it the contributor for less requirement for disposing off waste and filling in landfills and requiring incinerations. Recycling has taken humanity out of the risk for the production of the green house gases at landfill sites. This process is the key factor, which is used in the modern techniques for waste management and is the third participant for 3R’s i.e. Reduce, Reuse and Recycle of the waste hierarchy.
A number of materials are included with the list for recyclable products like glass, plastic, paper, textiles, metals and electronics. The materials, which are capable for being recycled are either picked from the curbside or taken to the center, as collections. They are then sorted out and reprocessed and are given new shapes as new products.
If we speak strictly then it is very right to say that recycling a material is a way for transforming in to absolutely new and fresh product. Therefore, if you have some sort of plastic say LED then it could be recycled and can be transformed in to new product for reuse. Salvage is another form of recycling, a sort of recycling which is done with the complex materials making them completely new.
Recycling critics are of the view that it uses more resources as it seemed to save, especially when it is authorization by government.
Analysis of cost-benefit
Over the economical efficiency of recycling there has been a debate. Monetary benefits have been observed by municipalities over the recycling of products. Technical university of Denmark has conducted a study, which says that almost eighty-three percent of recycling cases the most effective one is done with the household products. However, another study by another institution has found that incineration was the best way to dispose of drink containers.
The economical efficiency and fiscal efficiency are taken as separate entities. Analysis of economy for recycling includes externalities as called by economists. This means that they contribute towards the benefits to the individual level way out from the transactions conducted at private level. The recycling is generally, ignored in business as far as the tax and other things matter. For this and other reasons advocacy is done for the popularity and conduction of recycling. Almost all the authorities are in favor for recycling for not only environmental impacts but also for economical well-being. Note here recycling is more profitable in the densely populated areas.
It must be mentioned here that there are a number of requirements, which require to be met for the economical feasibility and effectiveness over environment. The first thing out of such requirements is a constant and adequate supply of recyclables, An up and running system for extracting recyclables out of waste stream, a locally located factory to process recyclables and a high demand for recycling.
A number of economists are of the view that there must be an adequate involvement of government in recycling projects.
A number of countries are conducting their trading over the unprocessed recyclates. Such countries have however complained that the recyclate that are sold to another countries do not have directed fate, they may end up in going to landfills of the country other than being recycled. A report is evident that almost fifty to eighty percent of computers in America that are meant to be recycled never got recycled.
A very crucial part for material to be recycled and recycling is the constant supply of recyclates to the program. Therefore for this purpose three options as per decided by legislative are there for supply.
- Mandatory collection for recycling
- Deposit in container legislation
- Refuse Ban
The first option Mandatory Collection is the set of laws that have their target set for the cities to aim for the collected recyclates. This law get the city bound to produce certain amount of recyclates with in given period. The city then plans to give out the required amount.
The second option is Deposit in the container legislation that compels the authorities to refund a special amount in currency at each return of recyclates. The strategy is to put a special price on the recyclable container. This container at return can refund that added price to the product for its container. This strategy is however has gained much fame and is the most successful.
The third and the last option is the Ban Refuse, this option says that the refusal or dumping off for some materials is ban such as old batteries, oil, garden waste and tires. This result in proper disposal for the ban materials and thus economical profit is gained.
Legislation has not just done for the purpose of constant supply of recyclates in fact it is also done for the purpose of increasing and maintaining the demand of materials. For this purpose, four methods are decided by legislation:
- Minimum Recycled content Mandates
- Rates of Utilization
- Policies of Procurement
- Labeling for recycled Products
First two options i.e. Minimum recycled content mandates and rate utilization play their part in direct increase of the demand by pressurizing the manufacturers to enlist recycling with their operations. First option is effective for specifying some percentage of the products to be recycled, the second option is the flexible one, and it permits the producers to meet the targets for recycling as is set by supply legislation.
The third option for increasing the demand is called “procurement Policies” that is introduced by the government by its own power of purchase subsequently increasing the demand.
The fourth and the last legislative option for increasing the demand are labeling the recycled products. This is done at the time any product is produced that can be processed in future as recyclate. There is a mark to be placed with the container or the product to educate the consumer that this is recyclate and it must be put aside in the recycle bin.
There are number of systems working to have the collection of recyclates conducted out of the waste stream. These systems found their implementation with the public content and governments ease. The three main categories through which collection is conducted are:
- Drop-off Centers
- Buy-Back Centers
- Curbside collection
These centers have requirement for the producer to have the recyclates carried to some central location and this is achieved through installation and mobile collection that is later taken to the plant for reprocessing.
These centers are quite different from Drop-off centers as they have the requirement to buy only cleaned and washed products.
This sort of collection is very much different from above defined systems. This differs mostly on the location where they were cleaned and sorted. The main categories, which are used to have the explored and looked out are the mixed waste collection, source separation and commingled recyclables. This collection and sorted out waste is generally picked up by the WCV.
The facility where recyclates are delivered is known as Central Collection Facility. Here commingled recyclates are delivered which are then sorted out. This sorting out is not a single stepped procedure rather a series is followed for the separation and sorting out the recyclates. A number of the steps involved with the sorting out involve automated processing while some steps include manual processing.
With the very first step of the sorting out of the recyclates is their removal from the vehicle. The unloaded material is then spread over a conveyor belt. Bulky recyclates like plastic bags and cardboards are removed manually at this stage.
Automated machines then come in to action and they separate the recyclates from different classes judging them by weight. Heavier recyclate from same class are also separated from lighter ones. This separation is also done manually but some facilities today have adopted automatic separation at this stage. The bulk of separated recyclates is then passed through the chamber where spectroscopic scanner differentiates between the types of each class.
Metals are separated with help of stronger magnets and non-iron compounds are ejected out. Glass is sorted out with hand and is differentiated based on its color.
There is a long list for materials, which have capacity to be recycled, and so, different techniques are applicable to these recyclates.
Concrete and Aggregates: demolishing sites are big sources for producing concrete, which for its recycling is thrown in to the crushing machines. Crushing machine has this concrete crushed in to smaller pieces and this recycled material is later used as gravel at new sites. The recycled concrete can also be used for producing new concrete.
Batteries: there is a huge variation in the sizes and composition of batteries, this aspect makes them extremely difficult to have recycled. They, before undergoing recycling process must be sorted out in to their sizes and kinds. Then individual size and kind account for the processing for the sake of recycling. Batteries also have a harmful impact as they have hazardous composition so they require special care for their handling.
Biodegradable waste: composting can be done to recycle organic waste. This waste includes green waste.
Clothing: Clothing material can be recycled by two methods i.e. swapping and consignment.
Disassembly and reclamation of electronics: the direct disposal of electronics is banned because it can prove hazardous therefore, every electronic device gets recycled. The recycling of this waste is conducted in huge Electronic waste recycling plant.
Ferrous materials: these materials make up the biggest part of the recyclables and could be processed repeatedly. They are separated from bulk by magnets and are treated with high heat at electric arc furnace or at BOF.
Non-ferrous Metals: these materials are also recyclable and the most known is the “aluminum”. These metals are shredded and crushed in to small pieces and then compacted in to bales, which later is taken to the industry for reproducing products.
Glass: glass recyclables are collected at the curbside and is taken to the collection facility where it is separated depending upon its color. This collected glass is then taken to the recycling plant and before it goes through the process, it is cleaned out from impurities.
Paper: this portion of recyclables is recycled by processing it by its reduction in to pulp and then mixing it with fresh pulp. Then the process for papermaking follows.
Plastic: this process is initiated at the time when collection for recyclable plastic is done. Once the sorts of plastic are sorted out, they are taken to plants. At plants, they are first washed off and then shredded in to pieces, which with further processing convert it in to granules. These granules are then processed to give out new products.
Textiles: the textile material is composed of biodegradable and synthetic plastics. Therefore, they have different ways for processing. One thing to be mentioned here that the cloth which is in good condition is sorted out for reusing as it is and is sold or given as charity to the developing countries. The other worst conditioned textile material is recycled.
Early Recycling: making the used product reusable is the most common practice human beings are going through from times B.C. during times when there was scarcity of resources the studies have shown lesser amount of household waste concluding that more of the material was recycled instead of creating new out of fresh material.
Wartime Recycling: when it comes to the shortage of resources as in wartimes of World War II, recycling has been observed. Government gets in to the massive campaigns for using already material in hand and then reusing it.
Postwar Recycling: After the war end, the recycling campaign still was upheld. This was kept for long time in order to save revenue that has been spend over producing new material. This revenue was thus, used in more constructive work.