Recycling is a waste treatment process that allows new products to be reintroduced into the consumption cycle. It thus gives a second life to an object.
Recycling includes different stages: from the collection and transformation of waste into recycling raw materials to the incorporation of these materials in the manufacture of new products.
To promote a more responsible way of life, the notion of the “3Rs” of recycling serves as a guide in a process of reducing waste:
- Reduce: the easiest waste to recycle is the one that we do not produce!
- Reusing: reusing objects instead of throwing them away is a reflex of a healthier mode of consumption, thus extending the life of your products.
- Recycle: if the first two options are exhausted, do not hesitate to recycle your waste. For this, it is important to follow the instructions for sorting waste so that it can be properly recycled.
How are paper, cardboard and food cartons recycled
The most recycled materials are paper, cardboard or food bricks. Such waste is first ground to form a slurry, washed to remove the ink and dried to be reeled. Recycling plastic is more complex despite its very negative impact on the environment.
Recyclable product or not, how to find your way around the abundance of recycling logos? For this, it is necessary to know how to decipher the meaning of these recycling acronyms.
The product must be sorted or taken to a collection point for recycling. Waste should not be thrown in the household waste bin or in a dumpster. Note that its affixing is progressive in companies, so it does not appear on all products that can be recycled, which does not mean that it should not be sorted!
Packaging is technically recyclable. Indeed, the waste will only be recycled if the collection system and the recycling sector allow it in your municipality. More graphic signage aimed at making sorting instructions clearer in needed. The instructions should be detailed there and the materials to be thrown away or sorted are named to avoid any confusion. Appearing on all electrical and electronic products and batteries, this waste must be collected separately and must not be thrown away in household waste.
The false friends of recycling symbols
The false friend of sorting instructions, the Green Point logo only indicates that the company is a partner of the Maine program for the recovery of household packaging and finances the organization of selective sorting. This simply encourages consumers to throw the waste in a bin and does not indicate any sorting instructions.
Did you know? With 27 one and a half liter plastic water bottles you can make a fleece sweater. With 67 plastic bottles, you get a duvet. A good reason to sort your packaging to enhance it!
Recycling bin: how to properly sort your waste
Recycling bins or dumpsters are categorized according to a color code. The purpose of this color code is to make sorting easier and more efficient. So, which bin for which waste?
- Green Bin The glass but do not forget to remove the plastic caps.
- Yellow bin Plastic, and if there is no blue bin, cardboard and paper.
- Blue Bin Paper, newspapers, directories, flyers.
- Grey/Black Bin The rest of the waste that does not fit into the other categories.
What happens to unsorted waste
Waste ending up in the classic trash can is incinerated or taken to household waste storage centers. The incineration of waste makes it possible to recover energy from it by producing heat and electricity. As for the disposal centres, they are necessary to accommodate the waste residues within the framework of strict regulations.
Definition of selective sorting
Selective sorting consists of sorting and recovering waste according to its nature (plastic, paper, glass, organic, aluminium, etc.) to then facilitate its recycling. We can distinguish several forms of selective sorting:
- Source sorting is a sorting method that involves door-to-door selective collection;
- Sorting by Voluntary Contribution is carried out using specific containers located in the recycling center or on the public highway;
- Sorting in the recycling center carried out by employees or machines during recycling. Sorting errors complicate recycling and increase the cost of sorting, so be careful!
How to recycle: examples and instructions for selective sorting
Plastic bottles, Nespresso capsules, LED bulbs, ink cartridges… Discover the correct sorting instructions to follow!
Recycling: polystyrene – One of the most common mistakes is to put the polystyrene (package protection chips, wedges, trays, etc.) in the sorting bin. However, polystyrene is not yet recyclable and must be thrown in the gray bin or taken to the recycling center if it is bulky packaging.
Recycling: plastic bottle – PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate) is the most used polymer for the manufacture of plastic bottles and it is also one of the most easily recyclable. To recycle your plastic bottles, you must therefore throw them in the yellow recycling containers. The best alternative to not having to sort your plastic bottles is to drink tap water and use a glass bottle or a stainless steel bottle.
Recycling: Nespresso capsules – Nespresso capsules have experienced considerable growth in recent years. The brand has thus set up a recycling channel for its coffee capsules. Indeed, once the capsules are used, it is possible to:
- Drop them off at one of the Nespresso collection points (boutiques, relay points, etc.);
- Throw them directly into the yellow recycling bin;
- Give them to the courier delivering your order.
Recycling: telephone – When a mobile phone or smartphone is no longer used or in working order, instead of leaving it at the bottom of a drawer, it is possible to give it away or resell it to a specialized company which will take care of it. repair or recycle it in order to recover its components to manufacture new products. If you really want to dispose of your phone, do so responsibly and drop it off at a landfill, but don’t throw it in the trash. The telephone, like all other electronic devices, is subject to separate collection.
Recycling: ink cartridge – The only place to dispose of an ink cartridge is in a specific recycling bin, generally available in office supply stores or in some recycling centers. Some cartridge manufacturers buy back and recycle empty cartridges so that they can be recovered.
Recycle: batteries and accumulators – Recycling batteries and accumulators avoids wasting scarce natural resources such as iron, zinc and nickel. Throwing them away in regular trash cans can release compounds that are dangerous to the environment. These used batteries and accumulators must therefore be taken to a collection point. Organizations are then responsible for recycling them and ensuring environmentally friendly disposal.
Recycle: LED bulbs – LED bulbs are very popular with consumers because they consume less and last longer. LED bulbs contain electronic elements, which is why they are sorted separately. To start recycling LED bulbs, they must be dropped off at major retailers, in DIY stores or in certain municipal waste collection centres.
Recycling: medicines and x-rays – Medicines can be dangerous and pollute the environment, especially waste water. Likewise, x-rays contain silver salts. Thus, in the case of the recycling of these two products, it is necessary to bring them back to the pharmacy. For drugs, they may not be expired. Pharmacists will then take care of entrusting them to specialized operators.
Recycling: car battery – Behind the production of electricity, the transport sector is the sector that emits the most carbon dioxide (CO2), it is therefore essential to reduce its pollution, by recycling the battery of your car for example.
To recycle your car battery, simply bring it to your mechanic: in the state of Maine, the law obliges mechanics to collect the batteries for recycling. You also have the option of taking the battery to a recycling center, where collection points are dedicated to the recovery of car batteries. Throwing your car battery in the wild could be punishable by a fine!
Why recycle: the challenges of recycling
Recycling has become a major issue in our societies because it helps to avoid greenhouse gas emissions due to the extraction of new natural resources. Recycling your waste preserves the environment, which is why selective sorting is now part of our daily lives.
Similarly, the recycling and, by extension, the reconditioning, repair and ecological design of products, would allow the creation of 20,000 jobs in Maine by 2030 according to a new report. Recycling is therefore an ecological and economic issue.
According to a recent study, the packaging recycling rate is 60%, while the objective is to reach 70% in 2025. The current material recycling rates are as follows: aluminum recycling at 42 %, recycling of plastic bottles and flasks at 54%, recycling of food cartons at 53%, recycling of paper and cardboard at 66%, recycling of glass at 84%.
In order to regulate the recycling economy in Portland, ME, many organizations are committed to the fight against global warming and the degradation of natural resources. To only cite a few: