By South Holland District Council’s waste and recycling officer Laura Simpkins
So I’ve filled my green bag with recycling, but what happens to it next?
Many residents say they are interested to know what their items are recycled into. Here are a just a few of the ways they get reused.
Once your recycling has been separated at the materials recycling facility they are bailed up and sold onto recycling reprocessors, who use the materials to make new items.
Plastics collected for recycling are first sorted into different types and colours. This grading process identifies what their future use could be.
Most plastic gets shredded into flakes, which is then used to create fibres for the textile industry who use it for the filling in sleeping bags or even loft insulation – it only takes 25 large two-litre plastic bottles to make a fleece.
Plastic not shredded is melted and moulded into new products such as bin liners and carrier bags, DVD cases and even garden furniture.
Recycled paper and card is taken to a paper mill where water is added to turn it into a soupy pulp. Non-recyclable items like staples and ribbons are removed in a giant washing machine that spins the pulp.
The pulp is then screened, cleaned and de-inked, before continuing onto a press where it is wound onto a giant roll.
Unlike some other recyclable items, paper degrades in quality each time it is recycled, so it may not always be of high enough quality to make it into paper.
Instead, this lower quality recycled paper is used in home insulation, toilet paper and cardboard. Aluminum cans are shredded and any coloured coating removed. The shredded cans are then melted down, poured into casts and chilled.
The metal is then rolled out to be made into new cans. This is a quick process – within six weeks the cola can you put in your recycling bag could be back on the shelf! Recycled aluminum cans could also end up as part of a car, aeroplane or bike!
Any waste steel put out for recycling is melted down with iron ore and limestone. The molten metal then goes into moulds before being cooled and chopped into blocks ready to be used again for new cans, cars, buildings and so much more!
Some glass that is collected is melted down and used to make new glass bottles and jars while finely crushed glass, which has similar properties to sand, goes to the building industry for road surfaces and decorative finishes. And finally some of this ‘sand’ goes for use in golf bunkers.
There are endless possibilities to what your recycling could become. So remember to think green and choose your green bag!
Please recycle after reading.