Waste recycling, believe it or not, is not a new concept. Evidence to suggest that it existed around 400 BC. Recycling of glass from Byzantine times has been traced to the ancient city of Sagalassos located in Turkey as we know it. Furthermore, Romans also cast statues from recycled bronze coins.
Waste Generation Segregation
Environmental impoverishment over unheeded signs of an impending crisis, spurred by human greed, has severely depleted raw materials. Hence, the realization, be it of fossil fuels, natural ores, and others have come, alas a bit late. Conservation efforts to make use of recycling as an alternative to dipping further into the mother lode, the Earth. Concentrated efforts are underway on recycling used materials and the use of alternative energy, hand in hand with efforts to do away altogether with pollution of seas, land, and air. Waste recycling consists of waste segregation at source. The segregated waste is then transported to waste reception facilities. destruction or recycling facilities as the case may be.
Generally, waste identification is of four types:
Liquid waste, solid waste, organic waste, hazardous waste.
The solid waste consists of:
- Household waste also called municipal waste
- Industrial waste including hazardous waste
- Biomedical waste is also known as hospital waste or infectious waste
Household waste would encompass the following:
- Organic Waste, namely food, flowers, vegetables, fruits, and general kitchen waste
- Toxic waste such as computer parts, batteries, chemicals, fertilizers, spray cans, etc.
- The recyclable waste consists of glass, paper, tins, plastics, etc. and finally,
- Soiled waste such as hospital waste, bandages, and cloth soaked with human blood, body fluids, etc.
The Environmental Protection Agency has laid down color coding for waste receptacles and particularly bins with clear marking as to the nature of the waste.
For instance, household waste, debris from construction and demolition, sanitational residue and street waste all are municipal wastes. Subsequently, with rising urbanization, lifestyles and changing food habits, there is a constant increase in waste generation with unsatisfactory transportation and sanitary landfills.
The Recycling Process
This process is a loop to contain waste generation.
- Collect the recyclables.
Four options are in place. In brief, curbside, drop off, buy-back centers, deposit/refund programs
2. Process them and convert into recycled content products
The first step is the cleaning of the recyclables. Subsequently, they are broken down into their basic elements. They are then utilized for new materials or with other virgin additions added, and transformed into new materials.
By converting paper and paper products into pulp, so that extraction of the fiber is possible.
New products are derived from recyclables such as aluminum cans, glass, steel, for example, are melted down first to a liquid form. Other methods are in use depending on the type of materials.
3. The purchasing of such products.
Plastics contribute to nearly 50% of waste
Average it takes 700 years for a plastic item to degrade
Plastics dumped at sea kill around 10 million sea creatures a year.
Paper, for every ton, recycled, we save:
60,000 gallons of water
Recycling 14 trees worth of paper reduces air pollutants by 165142 tons.
To Round Off
Waste recycling has taken high priority. But, sadly, all nations don’t see eye to eye on the direness of the situation. Their own agendas take priority. The Kyoto protocol is still to be ratified by some nations, and so currently on the back burner. In the meanwhile, the Maldives are crying hoarse about their sinking nation.
Do your bit both in your own efforts and also educating those who are unaware.