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J&B Recycling Knowledge

How does recycling work

How does recycling work?

Recycling is a crucial process that helps reduce waste, conserve resources, and protect the environment. But have you ever wondered how recycling actually works? In this blog post, we will delve into the basics of recycling and explore the journey of recyclable materials from collection to processing.

Step 1: Collection 

The first step in recycling is the collection of recyclable materials. Local Authorities generally collect household recycling waste, also known as kerbside recycling.

Local authority kerbside recycling collections can vary from area to area based on a variety of factors. Here are some ways in which kerbside recycling collections may differ:

  1. Types of recyclable materials accepted: Different local authorities may have different lists of accepted recyclable materials. While most kerbside recycling programs accept common items such as paper, cardboard, glass, plastic bottles, and aluminum cans, there may be variations in the types of plastic, glass colors, or paper grades that are accepted for recycling.
  2. Collection methods: Local authorities may have different collection methods, such as single-stream (where all recyclable materials are mixed together), dual-stream (where recyclables are separated into different containers), or multi-stream (where specific materials are collected separately). This can impact how residents need to sort and prepare their recyclables for collection.
  3. Collection frequency: Kerbside recycling collections may vary in frequency, ranging from weekly to fortnightly or even monthly collections, depending on local resources and budget constraints. This can affect residents' convenience and the amount of recyclables that can be collected.
  4. Collection containers: Local authorities may provide different types of containers for kerbside recycling, such as bins, bags, or crates. The size and design of these containers can vary, impacting the ease of use and capacity for recyclable materials.

Business recycling waste is typically collected through a designated waste management service, like the one operated by J&B Recycling. Generally a waste audit will be undertaken to identify the waste needs of a business, then a recycling container is delivered on site and emptied regularly. Container sizes and collection periods vary depending on the needs of the business.

Step 2: Sorting 

Once the recyclables reach the material recycling facility (or MRF), they are sorted based on their type and sometimes quality. For example paper, cardboard, plastic, aluminium, glass and electrical waste are all separated. Any contamination is also removed. This is done using various methods - here at J&B Recycling, the vast majority of materials is separated using mechanical and optical sorting, with some manual intervention for quality control. The goal is to separate different types of materials and remove any contamination to ensure they can be processed effectively. Here is a video of the sorting process at J&B Recycling:

Step 3: Processing 

After sorting, the recyclable materials undergo processing. This generally involves transforming them into raw materials that can be used in the manufacturing of new products. For example, paper and cardboard are turned into pulp, plastic is melted and reprocessed, and metals are melted and refined.

Step 4: Manufacturing 

The processed materials are then used by manufacturers to produce new products. For instance, recycled paper can be used to make new paper products, recycled plastic can be turned into plastic bottles or containers, and recycled metal can be used in the manufacturing of vehicles or appliances. Using recycled materials in manufacturing reduces the need for virgin resources and conserves energy.

The video below shows how one of our customers, Novelis, who are world leaders in sustainable aluminium manufacturing, process and manufacture aluminium from the product we sell them.

Step 5: Distribution and Purchase 

The newly manufactured products made from recycled materials are distributed to retailers and eventually purchased by consumers. By purchasing products made from recycled materials, consumers can support the demand for recycled products and contribute to the circular economy.

Step 6: End of Life 

Once a recycled product reaches the end of its useful life, it can usually be recycled again, completing the recycling loop. The process starts over with collection, sorting, processing, and manufacturing, creating a sustainable cycle of resource conservation and waste reduction.

Recycling is a complex process that involves multiple steps, from collection to processing to manufacturing. It helps conserve resources, reduce waste, and protect the environment. By understanding the basics of how recycling works, we can all play our part in promoting sustainable practices and protecting our planet for future generations. So, let's recycle right and contribute to a greener and more sustainable world!

J&B Recycling are industry leaders. Our Material Recycling Facility (MRF) in Hartlepool, which processes over 200,000 tonnes of recycling waste annually, was recognised at 'Facility of the Year' at the 2022 National Recycling Awards. We work with Local Authorities across the North of England and Scotland to process kerbside recycling, and we work directly with businesses across the region to collect and sort recycling waste. Please don't hesitate to get in touch if you require assistance with your waste management and recycling needs.

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