Industry News

Green Earth: Recyclable vs Biodegradable

Author : Cynthia Jones
Update time : 2022-01-13 17:41:27
  Recycling is a very popular word these days. Everyone wants to buy recyclable products. This may be because everyone wants to do their part for the environment while getting the products they need, want and are familiar with. Of course, with the help of government policies, initiatives, towns and social media, the word "recyclable" is now part of our everyday lives. People in almost every country now separate their recyclables from their non-recyclable products. While many products now have recycled logos or symbols on them, and others are made from recycled materials, sometimes we just take them for granted and don't even look for them.
  The true meaning of recycling and made from recycled products
  Products that can be recycled are those that contain components that can be broken down through the supply chain and manufacturing process so that some components of the original product can be used to make another product. Recycled products are made from these ingredients. Components from empty soda cans that can be recycled, for example, could be used to make aluminum patio chairs. Or, plastic bags or cardboard boxes marked for recycling may be broken down into a new bag or box.
  But not 100% of the product is usable in all recycling processes. Usually 50-80% of the product can be recycled. So there's always some waste. And once the next product is made from components of the previous one, the resulting new product often cannot be recycled. As a result, by the end of the second product life cycle, they are all unrecyclable and waste, and are likely to end up in landfills.
  Recovery process
  Another problem most countries and towns face is how to separate recycled products. They need to separate plastic from things like metal and cardboard, which are all treated differently to make new products from reusable components. Although most cities and towns in the United States now collect garbage separately for recycling materials, these materials are all combined and need to be sorted. At many recycling centers in the United States, they have conveyor belts that separate products by using sensors and magnets. Others had to open the bags before they could reach the contents for sorting. Anyone who has watched Toy Story 3 with their children will know this. Some places still use people picking products manually from conveyor belts to sort them properly.
  Biodegradable is different from recyclable
  Then you might be able to recycle a biodegradable bag. But it's not a good choice for recycling because it breaks down automatically in 3-12 months. For example, biodegradable bags decompose themselves faster than regular plastic or recyclable bags. That's because a chemical has been added to the biodegradable bags to help them decompose faster when exposed to oxygen and sunlight. The bags themselves will break down over time into crystals made up of the molecules of which they are composed. Including whether they are floating on the ocean. So you don't put recyclables in biodegradable bags -- you put them in regular food waste that can't be recycled. It ends up in landfills. Then when the bag breaks down all the contents (coffee grounds, leftovers, etc.). Will break down soon after that, producing methane gas that could potentially be used as an energy source. Then the bag is gone forever, finally achieving zero waste.

Cynthia Jones
Paper product safety monitor
Have paper product safety performance testing experience, to provide you with the qualified products
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