How different types of material are recycled and reused

How different types of material are recycled and reused
Photo: Nopponpat, Bigstock

We all want to recycle, but we often don’t realise just how many different materials are reusable. Councils generally collect papers and “bottles” (glass, plastics and aluminium), but there are a lot of other types of waste that can be recycled – as long as you send it to the right place.

The recycling centres are, unfortunately, not always near each other, but a rubbish removal company like Heaps Cheap Rubbish Removal can take all of your junk away for you. So what materials can be reused, and how does the process work?

Paper

Paper recycling is done at a dedicated plant. The collected paper and cardboard is separated into different types/grades, because different products will be in each. The separated papers are then washed with soap and water, to get rid of ink, stains, glue etc. and deposited in vats where it is mixed with water and stirred, creating a type of slurry.

Different products can be added to the slurry mix depending on what kind of paper will be created. Rollers are then used to flatten out the slurry into large sheets, which are left to dry and cut up into the desired size before being sent to shops or publishers.

Glass

Similarly to paper, glass is taken to a dedicated recycling plant, sorted by colour and washed thoroughly before the process really begins. The clean glass is crushed up into very small fragments – think grains of sand in size.

The crushed glass is either shipped out to manufacturing centres that create glass products like windows, jars or bottles or melted down at the recycling plant. It is then remade into the necessary product, and sent to a packing centre to be filled.

Aluminium

Aluminium from cans, foil, cars and other sources can all be recycled an indefinite number of times. The material is, as with anything else, is washed before anything else happens. It is then melted down and forged in ingot moulds, to create large blocks of metal. The ingots are rolled out into sheets of aluminium of different thickness, ready to be cut and used in cans, foil wrapping and mechanised vehicles like cars and aeroplanes.

Copper

Copper isn’t collected by local councils, as it isn’t used in consumer goods that create waste. It is, however, used in wiring, refrigerators and lots of other electrical products. Copper is, like aluminium, almost 100% recyclable, and is a very valuable component in scrap metal.

You can often sell the metal to scrap dealers, or you can take it to a recycling plant yourself. A rubbish removal company will also be able to break up your old appliances for you and dispose of the components properly.

Copper, once collected, is essentially treated the same way as aluminium. After any insulation is stripped from the metal it is melted down and reforged into a useable form.

Recycling is an important part of the manufacturing process in Australia, and allows us to preserve our natural resources as well as reducing waste. If you don’t have the time to recycle everything properly yourself, a rubbish removal company can help you.