Reduce, reuse, recycle! We all know the drill – the more we recycle the better, the less damage is done to the planet, plus you get the opportunity to feel that warm glow of pride that you’re doing your bit to protect the world for future generations.
But did you know, not all items can be recycled time and time again? In fact, many common packaging materials vary when it comes to how many times they can be reused. So, to catch up and get in-the-know, check out our guide to the lifespan of your recycling waste:
Paper – 5 to 7 Times
The number of times a piece of paper can be recycled depends on its kind, but in general, paper is one of the easiest materials to recycle.
Basic A4 printer paper can be recycled into new sheet paper around 5 to 7 times. After this the fibres will become too short, so will either have to be merged with other paper or reused for a different purpose. Newspaper is already a poorer quality form of paper and after being recycled 4 or 5 times is often repurposed for egg cartons.
Aluminium Cans – Infinitely
Whether used for storing fizzy drinks or keeping beer safe, aluminium cans are one of the few things that can be recycled infinitely. It is the third most abundant element on earth and is the most common found in the Earth’s crust, so there is little fear we will run out of this versatile material.
And it’s not just drinks cans it is used in; aluminium is a main component in everything from automobiles to construction, cooking utensils to packaging materials.
Copper, Steel and Other Metals – Infinitely
Like aluminium, copper, steel and many other commonly used metals can be recycled an infinite number of times. And throughout this recycling and reusing process, none of their qualities will degrade – it’ll be just as strong and corrosion free!
It is also cheaper to recycle old or unwanted copper than to buy new copper, therefore copper is often bought as scrap and is in high demand. Whereas steal is extremely easy to recycle when you have the right training and equipment. Scrap steel can usually be melted down and repurposed in under an hour.
Cardboard – 3 to 4 Times
Cardboard is a processed, low-quality paper and therefore can only be recycled and reused 3 to 4 times. However, according to North American environmental solutions specialist Waste Management Inc, recycling a tonne of cardboard can save up to 290 kWh of energy, 46 gallons of oil and 9 cubic yards of landfill space. So, it’s definitely worth the effort.
Don’t worry if your cardboard gets wet, it can still be recycled. Please note, some wax-coated cardboards cannot be recycled, they can however be composted to reduce the amount of methane you produce.
Glass Bottles and Jars – Infinitely
Another product that can be recycled countless times is glass. From wine bottles to jam jars, milk bottles to mineral water bottles, all glass can be recycled quite easily and saved from landfill. It won’t degrade when recycled and, like copper, it is cheaper to recycle than make more.
Please note, other glass may not be recycled alongside food-grade glass, so keep any smashed windows or vases separate just to be safe.
Plastic – Once
This depends on the kind of plastic in question, but in most cases plastic can only be recycled once into the same kind of item. After this it may be repurposed into other products. Recycled plastic fibres can commonly be found in furniture, carpet, clothing and as flooring in children’s play areas too.
Polystyrene – Once
Expanded polystyrene (EPS) is a form of plastic, so the same rules apply, however it is harder to recycle. More than 95% of this material is air, but what little plastic content it does have can be melted down and recycled into more packaging material or home installation.
Recycle With GD Environmental’s Help
So, whether you have domestic or commercial recycling needs, or require removal of another kind of waste, like cess or asbestos, give us a call to discuss your waste management options. Call 01633 277755 or tweet us @GDEnvironmental