Understanding what items are recyclable is key knowledge for manufacturers seeking to become ‘greener.’ The choice between a material that is not easily recycled and one that is more eco-friendly takes on extra significance today when consumers are more environmentally-conscious than ever before.


Defining recycling

Recycling is where materials are collected and processed into new products or materials that would otherwise be disposed of in landfill or incinerated. Recycling, therefore, has numerous environmental and economical benefits.


Recycling’s environmental benefits

According to the USA’s EPA:

  • Recycling one ton of office paper can save the energy equivalent of consuming 322 gallons of gasoline.
  • Recycling just one ton of aluminum cans conserves more than 152 million Btu, the equivalent of 1,024 gallons of gasoline or 21 barrels of oil consumed.
  • Plastic bottles are the most recycled plastic product in the United States as of 2015, according to our most recent reportRecycling just 10 plastic bottles saves enough energy to power a laptop for more than 25 hours.

It makes sense that reusing materials instead of creating more ‘virgin’ materials is environmentally beneficial (the same can be said for compostable materials, too), but what items are recyclable?


Commonly recyclable items

Many consumers are already familiar with what items can be recycled through their local authorities’ kerbside schemes. These will usually take:

  • Paper and cardboard
  • Glass
  • Tins and foil
  • Certain plastics (specifically bottles)

Household refuse sites will commonly take the following for recycling:

  • Used motor and cooking oils
  • Tires
  • Batteries
  • Larger metal items
  • Many types of plastics
  • Used electronics
  • Certain hazardous wastes (such as cleaning products or paints)

More about recyclable plastics

Many consumers and companies have declared war on plastics, especially those which are harmful or cannot be easily recycled. So understanding which plastics are ‘better’ is very much a part of the public consciousness.

This video explains the types of plastics and just how recyclable they are or are not:


Recycling certifications

There are numerous standards for recycling. One of the better-known initiatives is WEEE (Waste from Electrical and Electronic Equipment) which focuses on the encouragement of electronic devices which are able to be recycled more easily.

There are an enormous number of standards for many recyclable materials such as wood, plastics, metals, cars, and more. Search them here.

Read our free whitepaper on bioplastics as alternatives to harmful oil-based plastics

Bioplastics have a really important role to play if we are to avoid that sobering statistic about ocean plastic becoming reality.

This whitepaper explores the rising interest in bioplastics and their common types and applications, sepcifically for manufacturers who are interested in becoming more eco friendly.

About Adrian Leighton

Adrian is the Sofeast group's experienced marketer and has worked in manufacturing for around a decade. He has a particular interest in new product development and sharing important manufacturing news from China.If you've read, watched, or listened to some Sofeast content, Adrian has probably had a hand in it!
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