LANGUAGE OF RECYCLING

materials Guide

See how materials are valuable when rescued at the source

Mixed Glass

Glass is a hard brittle substance with gem like qualities. Used for commonly used for everyday items such as windows, mirrors, jars and bottles. Made by fusing sand with soda and lime and cooling rapidly, glad is typically transparent and comes in a variety of colours. Glass is easily and endlessly recycled with no loss of quality, which make it a great way to save energy from mining whilst more importantly preserving the planet’s raw materials. Glass recycling is first sorted for contaminates then clean and separated for colours.

Compost

We separate cutlery that is labelled compostable and biodegradable as there composition is not always known by looking. Ideally compostable utensils are made from an industrially compostable bioplastic called PLA, or polyactic acids, which derive from either a corn-starch or sugar-cane which is a versatile compounds that can then be moulded into a variety of single-use products. When placed in the appropriate conditions, compostable utensils will generally decompose within 180 days.

Card and paper

Paper as we know it was first manufactured in China, over two-thousand years ago. Made from pulp of and fibres makes it  a biodegradable material perfect for packaging. When recycled it is separated into different grades, depending on its quality and amount of spoiling. The recycled paper is wound on to huge rolls before being cut and dispatched to make new products including cardboard, newsprints and office paper, from abrasive papers for DIY, tissue paper, cigarette papers, craft paper to luxury card papers.

Mixed Metals

According to the British Metals Recycling Association, 10 million tonnes of metal was recycled in the UK in 2018. Using recycled metal results in far less energy required to make new metals from ore. Metal is a robust raw material, never altering its original properties when recycled. Soda cans are made of aluminium, and the ring pull is made of steel. Britain recycles more metal than the industry currently demand resulting in 90% of recycled metal being exported abroad. Metal is 100% recyclable. 

Hard Plastics

Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) was first polymerised in the nineteenth century and involved ever since. Plastics are made from natural materials such as cellulose, coal, natural gas, salt and crude oil through a polymerisation or poly-condensation process. But they are not biodegradable and cause havoc on our environment when not discarded responsibly. They are commonly found around the home, if plastic is moulded or hard and is classed as a hard plastic. Typically bathroom, laundry, items and cups. 

Soft Plastics

Take the test. Now, scrunch it up tight – if it pings back, it’s a useful indicator it’s a soft plastic. Plastic film lids on yoghurt pots, soft fruit punnets and ready meals, as well as plastic crisp packets, pasta bags and chocolate or biscuit wrappers. Avoid wish-cycling by ensuring items are clean, otherwise they cannot be recycled and the whole lots ends up in landfill. The new plastics will be recycled to create packaging and even longer life products such as fence posts, cable covers and children’s slides.

Mixed Food

Food waste that rots in landfill releases methane – a harmful greenhouse gas. Instead, anaerobic digestion is a process of breaking down food waste, animal manure, slurries and energy crops in the absence of oxygen, inside an enclosed system, using microorganisms. As it breaks down methane is produced, collected and converted into biogas and used to generate electricity, heat or transport fuels. It also creates a nutrient-rich digestate that can be used as a fertiliser for agriculture and in land regeneration.

Sanitary

Disposing of sanitary products such as nappies and napkins, has been an unethical problem within society for many years. With mounting landfills in the UK but worldwide. Thanks to Ajinkya Dhariya in India, the founder of Padcare, his team processes sanitary pads quickly and safely using his super technology that converts the soiled waste into cellulose and plastic pulp with a 99.5% recovery. The valuable material can then be transformed into an assortment of new and useful items.

Tobacco filters

Over four trillion smelly cigarette butts, the part that looks like white cotton, are actually made of plastic fibres (cellulose acetate) which do not decompose. They are the single biggest pollutant in the environment.  There is some good news, that they can be transformed into insecticide-resistant mosquito. The ash and tobacco are separated out and composted. The filter is extracted for repurposing into toys and furniture stuffing.

Bubble Gum

Gumdrop is the first to recycle sticky gum. Their innovative process takes used bubblegum and cleans and purifies it, then mixes the synthetic rubber with other recycled plastics to make a strong, durable and material to remake into a range of new products such as coffee cups, gumboots and even shoe soles. The cute gum bins are helping to keep the nasty splodge of the pavements whilst saving UK councils money clearing up.

Batteries

Batteries come in different chemistries, including alkaline, lead-acid, nickel-cadmium, nickel-metal hydride, and lithium-ion. Each type of battery requires a specific recycling process. Single-use  cylindrical cell alkaline batteries  e.g. AA can be deposited at local supermarkets. Breaking batteries down into their core components, such as lead, acid, nickel, and cadmium they can be made into new batteries and other products.

Salvage

The multitude of materials within our salvaged bin would commonly include vapes which contain precious metals such as lithium cells from their batteries as well as plastic. Items can be defined as those that are difficult to recycle because they require the dismantling of their parts, which need to be identified before they can be recycled. Some items can be upgraded, whilst other parts that are saved can be transferred, sold, or reused for craft.

IT Equipment

The most sustainable approach is to refurbish IT equipment. A multitude of precious metals and minerals can be extracted via a specialist deconstruction process. Lead, mercury, nickel, cadmium, and copper rare earth metals such as silver, platinum, and gold. Other materials include plastic from equipment casing. All components are separated into their various waste streams. Each must be recycled perfectly to reclaim materials and protect the environment from radiation and further land mining.

Hazardous Waste

Hazardous wastes are waste materials that is considered dangerous to to humans, animals or the environment, or if it contains a substance which is dangerous. Surprisingly, some items can be recycled, such as Fridges, freezers, tvs, computer monitors and large domestic appliances such as washing machines can all be recycled. The process involves careful demolition so the components can be broken down and separated. Fluorescent tubes  and energy saving lightbulbs can also be recycled.

Shoes

Too many shoes and not enough recycling solutions. The best way to recycle is to repair shoes with new laces, soles, and heels. You can donate wearable pairs at a local charity shop. A better option for your pre-loved shoes could also include selling, decorating, or dyeing them. Shoes are made  from various components and many materials. But worn-out shoes can be separated into leather, foam, plastic, and rubber. The pieces are ground down. Options are limited and best to buy second-hand shoes.

Fabric

Natural textiles: wool, cotton, and linen are biodegradable and great for compost. Quality clothes can be sold or donated. Man-made fabrics contaminate the environment with micro-plastics. Soiled rags with hazardous substances can be recycled into fire-resistant insulation and structural and aesthetic building material. Categorising fabric items through separation is important to close the recycling loop. Scraps are great for crafting and surface texture textile art. Zips and buttons can always be salvaged.

Wood

Segregation is key for the recovery of wood, which is the ultimate renewable material. Categorised and graded, the lower grades of wood can be used as traditional feedstock for biomass systems to generate green electricity and low-cost heat for communities. Wood recycling is increasing year on year, and either used within the building industry as chipboard or particle board products. Or for animal bedding, equestrian and landscaping surfaces, play areas and filter beds.

Tyres

Tyre recycling is a worldwide problem. Dangerous if not implemented properly. Tires include natural and synthetic rubber, carbon black and silica, reinforced fibres, steel and textile reinforcements, and chemical agents. The successful recycling process (back to raw materials) is a guarded secret. The components are separated and then cleaned to a granular level. Items that can be made include fuel, tires, zig-zag bricks, speedbumps, and soft paving for playgrounds.

Liquid

If liquid waste isn’t disposed of correctly, it can harm the environment. Although oils, fats and grease may be in liquid form during and immediately after the cooking process, they generally solidify as they cool. Anaerobic digestion involves breaking down the waste without oxygen, in the process creating biogas (methane), which can be fed into the gas grid to provide heating and power. This process is often referred to as creating ‘energy from waste’

Oil

Mechanical oil is a slippery topic. Never pour down drains or in the ground. It is highly dangerous to the environment. Through a variety of processes, impurities are removed. Re-refined oil is dewatered, distilled and hydro-treated to remove contaminants. Recycling oil is cheaper than Used engine oil can, in fact, be cleaned and reused. The old oil is refined into new oil, lubricants, fuel oils and used for raw materials. The old oil also comprises of metals which can be recycled.

Vegetable oil

Oil once filtered and cleaned can be recycled to make many products, this includes things like polish, cleaning products, cosmetics, stock feed, and biodiesel. An anaerobic digestion process will break down the oil and any other organic ingredients without oxygen into a gas that can be used as alternative energy. The production of biofuels, as an alternative to petroleum, which can be used to power vehicles and even heat homes. Biofuels can reduce carbon emissions.

Dog waste

Smelly contents are broken down by microorganisms in the anaerobic digester, producing methane to fuel and fertiliser. Make your own compost bin by adding dog poop to grass clippings, plant or other organic waste, and even sawdust as a source of food for the microbes. The enzymes activate so the organic matter it can safely return to the environment. Dog waste is compostable, but there are precautions required to compost the waste properly.

Vegetation

Waste is turned into a nutritious soil conditioner which increases the nutrients and improves a soil structure to help plants grow. This can also be used for agriculture, land reclamation. The final part of the process involves removing any remaining contaminants. Bark, flowers, grass and hedge cuttings, leaves, plants, small branches, twigs, and weeds are laid out in windrows to decompose. Enzymes and bacteria result in finished compost in just a few weeks.

Broken Crockery, brick rubble

Broken cups, plates, and teapots can be added to the aggregate material to make an efficient irrigation system in land agriculture of a rock base for driveways and paths. Ceramic waste can be added as a partial replacement of fine aggregate sand as a supplementary addition to improve its strength and durability. Or more simply, a collection of colourful ceramic pieces can become an interesting protective surface as decorative mosaics.

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