Recycling: What is it? How is it done?

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What exactly is recycling? Although many people will probably know what recycling is, we will try to deepen its definition and the processes by which it is carried out.

Definition of recycling

Recycling consists of obtaining a new raw material or product, through a physical-chemical or mechanical process, from products and materials that are no longer used.

In this way, we can extend the life cycle of a product, saving materials and benefiting the environment by generating less waste.

Recycling helps not only to eliminate waste but also to cope with the depletion of the planet’s natural resources.

The recycling process

The entire recycling process goes through several phases:

Recycling begins in industrial and domestic environments, through the separation of materials. The next step is the recovery of these materials by public and private companies and their subsequent transfer to the recycling plants.

In these plants, large amounts of waste are stored and compacted, for later transportation in large quantities to sorting plants with picking stations. This is when exhaustive separation of waste is carried out. In these plants, we find, in some cases, the evaluation or final recycling processes, where new materials or products are obtained, the materials are stored in large landfills, or energy is produced as is the case of biogas plants.

Waste treatment strategy

Recycling, apart from its complex transformation process, is one of the basic points of the 3R waste treatment strategy.

Reduce

Actions to reduce the production of objects susceptible to becoming waste.

Re-use

Actions that allow the reuse of a product to give it a second life, with the same or a different use.

Recycle

The set of waste collection and treatment operations that allow to reintroduce them in a life cycle.

Benefits of recycling

Many people already do some form of recycling, but we do not really know the great benefits of recycling. To encourage those who still do not recycle, or to be proud of doing so, here are the main advantages of recycling.

Avoid storage of polluting material

In the first place, when we recycle a container or product, we are preventing them from being stored in large landfills, some of them out of control and oversaturated.

By recycling, we will ensure that no new landfills are created, and a more controlled management of existing ones is possible, something that will undoubtedly improve the environment of the areas where they are located.

Lower environmental impact

In addition, we reduce the extraction of new raw materials, conserving our environment more, and achieving a very important saving of energy consumption and emission of greenhouse gases.

It is estimated that the emissions from producing a new product from recycled materials are 20% less than if they come from new materials.

To all this, we must add the environmental savings that involve the non-extraction of these materials and their subsequent transport.

Another advantage of recycling is that we can collaborate in the creation of new products, derived from materials of origin with other very different uses.

Examples of the advantages of recycling

With plastic containers we can create bags, fibres or urban furniture, with only eight cereal boxes you can create a book, with 80 cans of soda, a car tyre, or with 40 PET used plastic water bottles, you can make a fleece.

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