Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

A popular mantra, and just as relevant as ever. Recycling has significant application to the world today. More items and materials are recyclable than ever before. That said, what is recyclable? Luckily, there are resources available to help determine what to put into those big blue bins, and where to take larger recyclables.

 

Household

Household recycling is as easy as separating recycling waste from landfill waste. Most cities can recycle paper, cardboard, some plastics, aluminum, and glass, but check your local waste department for information. See details about Chicago’s recycling program here.

 

Industrial

When the proper logistics are in place, industrial recycling is even easier than household recycling. Household recycling often includes a small quantity of a variety of materials (plastic, metal, cardboard) which need to be sorted before they can be processed. Factories, unlike households, produce large volumes of a consistent type of waste product, like waste denim from textiles. These materials are diverted to another processing facility where they find new life! In the case of waste denim, that new life might be as improved insulation in homes.

 

Refrigerants

Refrigerants are used to absorb and release heat to cool a space, and are made of chemicals (chlorofluorocarbons – CFCs, hydrochlorofluorocarbons – HCFCs, and hydrofluorocarbons – HFCs) that deplete the ozone layer and add greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. A subset of industrial recycling, refrigerant recycling is done to prevent dangerous emissions from entering the atmosphere when a/c units, refrigerators, and freezers are thrown away. Refrigerant fluids can be processed and recycled to avoid harming the environment.

 

Resources:

Environmental Protection Agency – Refrigerant Disposal

Recycle By City

Zero Waste Chicago

Waste 360

Bureau of International Recycling

Institute of Scrap Recycling, Inc.

Earth911

The Resource Center – Recycling