Recycling comes last in the 3R hierarchy but is still very important.
Recycling requires us to think about our daily actions at home, at work, or at play to ensure we make the effort to recycle more, more often. When we recycle, we give waste materials new life so they can be used again. We can also help close the loop on recycling by purchasing recycled and recyclable products.
Recycling is easy and it’s worth the effort. What’s more, recycling our waste and choosing products made from recyclable materials, helps ease the burden on our natural resources and landfills.
Why should we recycle?
Recycling helps preserve natural resources and protect the air and water.
- Turns waste into a resource – Transforming material that would take years to break down in a landfill into new products.
- Keeps waste out of landfills – Reprocessing used materials into new products reduces the amount of waste sent to landfill sites.
- Uses less energy – Producing new products using recycled materials uses less energy than using raw materials.
- Conserves natural resources – Making products from used materials reduces the need to consume natural resources.
- Reduces pollution – Making products from recycled material creates less pollution than making products from raw materials.
The Recycle Cycle
You do your part by returning your used beverage containers to the Green Depot to be recycled. But did you ever wonder what happens next? You may be surprised to learn where your beverage containers travel and what they can be turned into.
The Store. This is where the recycling process begins. You buy your beverages and pay your recycling deposit at the store.
You pay an 8 cent deposit on non-alcoholic beverage containers and a 20 cent deposit on alcoholic beverage containers.
Your Home. The beverages you buy at the store are consumed at home, at school, at work or outside. This is where you make the decision to recycle your used beverage container by bringing it to the Green Depot.
On average, Newfoundlanders and Labradorians dispose of one beverage container per person, per day.
The Green Depot. This is where you return your used beverage containers to be recycled and receive your deposit refund. Green Depot staff count and sort the containers based on the material they are made from. Once the containers are counted and sorted, they are put in large bags and sent to the processing plant.
There are 40 Green Depots, 20 satellite depots and 17 mobile depots throughout Newfoundland and Labrador.
The Processing Plant. This is where the recyclable containers are prepared to be shipped to market. There is one processing plant in our province, located in Mount Pearl. Staff at the processing plant use a large machine to compact the different sorts of material into large cubes called bales. When processing is complete, the bales of aluminum, steel and different types of plastic, are sent to the recycling plant.
One bale of aluminum may contain 18,000 aluminum cans and weigh as much as 1100 pounds!
The Recycling Plant. This is where the bales of material are turned into new materials that can be used again. Each type of material can be transformed in a number of ways to make new products.
Almost all of the original material from steel containers is recovered during recycling. And everything that can be made from new steel can be made from recycled steel.
“Open-loop” vs. “Closed-Loop Recycling”
Open-loop recycling is when a product is recycled into something new, but that new product is not easily recycled again.
Example: Plastic beverage containers that are recycled into new carpet.
Closed-loop recycling is when a product is recycled into something new, and that new product can be recycled over and over again.
Example: Old newsprint that is recycled into new newsprint.
There’s another way to keep the “cycle” in recycle, and that’s by buying products made from recycled (or “post-consumer”) material. When you buy products made from post-consumer material you are ensuring that the recycled product is used again. Then, when you recycle that product, you continue the cycle.
Example: You buy a drink in an aluminum can, which was made from recycled aluminum. When you’re done, you recycle that aluminum can so it can be made into a new can and sold again.