What is the future of recycling
Recycling began in the 9th Century when the Japanese reused paper to create new documents. It was in the 17th Century in the U.S. that cotton and linen cloths were collected to be reused for printing newspapers and Bibles.
Recycling took a while to gain traction. It wasn’t until World War II, when the military required materials, that the collection began.
Earth Day was first celebrated in the United States on April 22 and April 22, 1970. This was another important milestone in our efforts to protect the Earth. It was 53 years ago. What’s next?
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Most households recycle glass, cardboard, metal, and paper. Many families and businesses recycle electronics and batteries, but some are still unaware of the importance. Where is recycling headed as the ease and availability of recycling continue to improve? What will the future of recycling be like?
Plastics are still a problem.
Plastic is everywhere. But it’s recycled slower than it’s used and produced. In 2018, 37.5 million tonnes of plastics were made, but only three million tons were recycled. This is less than 9%. HDPE and PET had the highest recycling rates, at 29,3% and 29,1%, respectively.
Where is it? It was disposed of in 27 million tons at landfills throughout the United States. This accounted for 18,5% of the waste that went to landfills. Plastic that has been used in the creation of something loses strength during recycling. Plastics are difficult to restore to “virgin quality,” so items made from recycled plastics can’t be reused.
This is the beginning of one of the future’s recycling processes. VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland has found a method to remove 70% of virgin plastic and chemicals. Olefy, the technology they are working on, could be a game-changer.
This is a timely development, as many states or companies have set goals to use a certain percentage of recycled materials in their packaging. California beverage companies must use plastic bottles that contain 50% recycled material by 2030.
PVC Recycling: Advances in the Industry
It is challenging to recycle polyvinyl chloride used in many plumbing systems. Heat releases the corrosive acid hydrochloric. Usually, it’s thrown away. But University of Michigan researchers found a way to recycle the acid through electrochemistry.
Recycling Pays Off
Some people find recycling too time-consuming or expensive. Others prefer the hours of recycling facilities. The reverse vending machine is being tested to determine if it increases recycling rates. If you live in an area with bottles and can return them, then you’ve likely seen them at stores that have bottle return areas.
The machine will scan the UPC on your can or bottle. It will add the money to your order if it is a valid returnable. You can print the coupon and use it to get a discount at the store or ask for cash.
Some machines are capable of taking more than just bottles. Cans, jars, bottles, clothing, and plastic containers are accepted. You get paid if it is recyclable.
Durable and Water-Resistant paper bags
Some states have banned the use of plastic bags in stores. Others are more cautious because paper bags are less intense. Moisture also reduces the strength of paper bags. When you leave the store, heavy rain soaks the paper bag, and everything you bought could fall out of the bottom or sides.
Researchers at Penn State have found a way of making paper bags stronger by using lye. This strengthens the cellulose within the paper. Even if they are wet, the bags retain their strength. They can be reused multiple times, and when no longer needed, they can be converted into biofuel.
Microbes that eat plastic
Many people are not happy with the fumes produced by burning or melting petroleum-based plastics. PET can last up to 450, LDPE and HDPE for up to 600, PVC and HDPE for up to 150, and PS is suitable up to 80.
Researchers have discovered that microbes can quickly break down plastics under the right conditions. Microbes can be used to recycle plastics in the same way they are helpful for wastewater treatment.
Styrofoam Munching Worms
Styrofoam, one of the most challenging items to recycle, is made from polystyrene foam. Some companies turn it into bricks to be used as insulation. However, this takes time and requires fire retardants to comply with many building codes.
Scientists from Australia have discovered a new way to recycle polystyrene. Zophobos Morio worms have an enzyme believed to break down polystyrene and turn it into food for them. The team fed the worms Styrofoam or other foods over three weeks. The worms who ate Styrofoam grew the most.