by: Leslie Jones
Have you found yourself wondering, “If I recycle a plastic bottle...does it go to make new plastic bottles?” or “What could possibly be made from recycled glass?” You are not alone. Recycling is one of those “blind processes” that we know happens, but it happens behind the scenes.
Let me reassure you, however, that the vast majority of your clean recyclables taken or sent to Recycling Works are processed and sent to the world market for reuse...sometimes as other things.
“Recycled polyethylene terephthalate (RPET) can be used to make many new products, including fiber for polyester carpet; fabric for T-shirts, long underwear, athletic shoes, luggage, upholstery and sweaters; fiberfill for sleeping bags and winter coats; industrial strapping, sheet and film; automotive parts, such as luggage racks, headliners, fuse boxes, bumpers, grilles and door panels; and new PET containers for both food and non-food products.”*
“Besides easily recognizable paper products (e.g, writing paper or paper towels), more than 5,000 products can be made from recycled paper, including:
- Masking tape
- Paper money
- Dust masks
- Hospital gowns
- Coffee filters
- Lamp shades
- Car insulation
- Animal bedding
- Planting pots for seedlings
- Egg cartons”**
Glass also can be reused to make such things as:
“Countertops - Manufacturers of recycled glass countertops combine crushed glass with porcelain and resins to produce slabs of material that resemble terrazzo. Recycled glass countertops are heat-, stain- and scratch-resistant.
Tile - Homeowners can choose from recycled glass tiles in various shapes, colors and finishes. Frosted, translucent or metallic tiles work for flooring, on walls or in showers and baths. The tiles are sold individually or in sheets and are installed the same way as any other tiles, with mastic and grout.
Insulation - According to the North American Insulation Manufacturers Association, fiberglass insulation manufactured today is made of at least 40 percent recycled glass. The other main ingredient in fiberglass insulation is sand.
Paving - Recycled glass mixed with paving materials makes glassphalt, which can be used
to pave streets and parking lots. In use since the 1960s, glassphalt is made by substituting glass for 5 to 40 percent of the rock normally used in manufacturing asphalt, according to the Clean Washington Center.”***
Although we can’t see this process occurring, we benefit from it every day by paying lower prices at the cash register, having a wider selection of items to choose from that are made in the USA, enjoying cleaner air and a less toxic environment, and the pride of knowing that we are a large part of this process....or, rather progress.