How Materials Are Recycled

Everyone knows we’re supposed to recycle. However, for many, it’s a mystery what happens after we put the materials into their proper bin. Where does it go? How is it repurposed? And what is the benefit?

As a waste management service in the Huntsville AL area, we thought we’d shed a little light on this process. Not only is it important, it’s downright interesting.

Paper

The very first step is to gather recyclable paper. This paper needs to be separated because all types of paper are not created equal. In fact, there are seven different grades of paper. The main difference between these grades are the texture and weight. As for recycling, these different grades provide varying amounts of fiber which can later be extracted from the pulp. This will make sense shortly.

This sorted paper is then processed into pulp. This is done by treating the paper with water, hydrogen peroxide, and caustic soda mixed with soap. This breaks down the paper until the desired consistency of pulp is achieved. This pulp is then filtered through screens to remove anything that isn’t paper, such as staples or plastic.

Now that the pulp is only fiber, the remaining ink needs to be removed. There are several methods of doing this, but the most popular are flotation and washing. Flotation separates ink from the pulp by putting the material into water. Bubbles pass through the pulp which attach to the ink. The ink is collected on top and removed. Washing sounds exactly how it is: Ink is separated through the use of dispersants and filters.

The whitened pulp is then fed into rollers. This removes most of the water from the pulp which is then sent to a dryer to remove the rest of the moisture. The dried pulp is again pressed between rollers to get it to the desired grade of paper.

Are you in need of waste management in the Huntsville AL area? Contact PBS Services to see how they can help with your residential, commercial, or construction waste.

Glass

Glass needs to be separated by color after it is collected. The most common colors of glass are clear, green, and brown. Separating by color is necessary because recycled glass will retain its original color. This is why most collection points have different receptacles for each color of glass. Heat-resistant glass is not recyclable. Even a small piece of heat-resistant glass can spoil otherwise recyclable material.

Once the glass is separated, it is smashed into small pieces called cullet. This cullet is then cleaned of contaminants with magnets, laser sorters, and air suction. Once cleaned, the cullet is melted at over 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit with certain chemicals.

This liquid glass is then separated and pressed or blown into new bottles. The best part of this whole process is that as long as the glass isn’t compromised in any way, it can be recycled indefinitely.

Aluminum

Anything made of aluminum can be recycled. The most popular aluminum item that is recycled are cans. These come from soda, beer, or even food packaging. Aluminum recycling is particularly beneficial because the material, once formed, is very stable. This means aluminum can be recycled again and again. In fact, about two-thirds of the aluminum that’s ever been produced is still being used. Considering Americans use over a million pounds of aluminum every day, this is a very good thing. Another great aspect of this is that recycling saves about 95% of the energy required to make a new can. The efficiency and massive use makes aluminum recycling extremely beneficial.

The process of recycling aluminum is fairly straightforward. The only sorting that needs to happen is the removal of non-aluminum items. Plastic bottles and paper products are often accidentally included in aluminum recycling bins. Once this material is removed, the aluminum is dumped into a large hydraulic press which crushes the aluminum into square bales. These are essentially big cubes of crushed cans.

These bales are then shipped off to a smelter. Here, the aluminum is melted down. The melted aluminum is pressed into sheets which can then be formed into new products.

This process is fairly quick. In fact, the whole cycle can be completed in about 60-90 days. This means you can drink a can of soda and toss it into the recycling. Then, a few months later, a can made from the same aluminum can be back in your refrigerator with a new beverage inside.

Call PBS Service for Your Waste Management Needs

Proper disposal of materials, both recyclable and not recyclable, is important. An experienced waste management service in the Huntsville and north AL area like PBS Services is here to help with residential, commercial, and construction waste.

Visit PBS Services today for all of your waste management needs in the Huntsville AL area.

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