Green Recycling – Everything You Need to Know

By:     Kieran Donnelly

Green recycling, also known as sustainable recycling or eco-friendly recycling, refers to the practice of recycling materials in an environmentally responsible manner. It involves the collection, processing, and reusing of waste materials to conserve natural resources, reduce pollution, and minimise the impact on the planet.

At Gradeall, we massively support green recycling initiatives. We have manufactured a range of innovative recycling machinery that helps contribute to this industry and work towards a more sustainable future. 

Why is Green Recycling Important?

Green recycling aims to divert materials that would otherwise be discarded as waste and channel them back into the production cycle. This approach reduces the need for extracting raw materials, which often involves energy-intensive processes and can lead to environmental degradation.

Instead, green recycling focuses on recovering valuable resources from waste and transforming them into new products or materials. This is beneficial for a more circular economy and ensures environmental protection.

Benefits of Green Recycling

Green recycling offers several benefits to the environment, economic growth and enhanced quality of life. The benefits of green recycling include:

Conservation of resources

Recycling helps conserve valuable natural resources, such as timber, minerals, and fossil fuels, by reducing the need for extracting new raw materials.

Energy savings

Recycling often requires less energy compared to extracting and processing virgin materials. This energy saving contributes to reduced greenhouse gas emissions and mitigates climate change.

Waste reduction

By diverting waste from landfills, green recycling helps alleviate the strain on waste management systems and reduces the environmental impact of landfill sites, which release methane gases into the air and leach toxic chemicals into the soil.

Pollution reduction

Recycling reduces pollution associated with resource extraction and manufacturing processes, including air and water pollution, as well as the release of greenhouse gases and other harmful emissions.

Job creation

The recycling industry creates employment opportunities in areas such as waste collection, sorting, processing, and manufacturing of recycled products. This is great for economic growth in a more sustainable economy.

Overall, green recycling plays a crucial role in promoting a circular economy, where resources are kept in use for as long as possible, reducing waste and minimising environmental harm. It is an essential component of sustainable waste management and contributes to building a more environmentally conscious society.

What is the green recycling process?

The process of green recycling typically involves the following steps:

Collection

Waste materials are collected separately to prevent contamination and facilitate the recycling process. The collection aspect of the green recycling journey also needs to be made efficient as it may be counterproductive to produce fumes from transporting waste.

At Gradeall, we specialise in manufacturing waste balers, such as the MK3 to help make transporting waste much more efficient. Our machinery dramatically reduces the volume of waste, meaning less journey and subsequently less carbon dioxide emissions.

Sorting

Collected materials are then sorted based on their type and composition. This step helps ensure that only suitable materials are sent for recycling.

Processing

The sorted materials undergo various processes to prepare them for reuse. This may involve shredding, crushing, melting, or cleaning, depending on the material. A glass crusher for example will crush glass waste into tiny pieces whereas a tire shear will cut the tire material into more manageable pieces before turning into crumb rubber or rubber mulch.

Reprocessing

The processed materials are transformed into new products or raw materials that can be used in manufacturing. Some examples include;

  • Recycled paper can be used to produce new paper products
  • Recycled plastic can be used to make new plastic items.
  • Recycled tires can be used to create new playground surfaces.

Distribution

The recycled materials are then distributed to manufacturers who incorporate them into their production processes, thereby reducing the demand for virgin resources.

What materials are suitable for green recycling?

Green recycling can involve various types of waste materials, and the suitability of each material for recycling depends on several factors, including its composition, contamination levels, and market demand for recycled products.

Here are some commonly recycled waste materials:

Paper and Cardboard

Paper waste, such as newspapers, magazines, office paper, and cardboard boxes, is highly recyclable. It can be processed into new paper products, including packaging materials, tissue paper, etc.

Plastics

Many types of plastics can be recycled, including bottles, containers, packaging materials, and plastic bags. However, not all plastics are easily recyclable, and the recycling process can vary depending on the type of plastic. Commonly recycled plastics include PET (polyethylene terephthalate) and HDPE (high-density polyethene).

Glass

Glass bottles and jars are recyclable. The glass recycling process involves crushing the glass into cullets, which is then melted and moulded into new glass containers or used in other applications like fibreglass insulation.

Metals

Metals such as aluminium, steel, and tin cans are highly recyclable. Recycling metals saves energy and resources compared to producing them from raw materials. Recycled metals can be used to make new cans, automotive parts, appliances, and more.

At Gradeall, we produced the Tyre Rim Separator which removes the steel or alloy rim from waste tyres.

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Organic Waste

Organic waste, including food scraps and yard waste, can be composted to produce nutrient-rich soil amendments. Composting is a form of recycling that diverts organic waste from landfills, reduces methane emissions, and produces valuable compost for gardening and agriculture.

Electronics

Electronic waste, often referred to as e-waste, contains valuable materials such as metals and rare earth elements. Recycling electronics ensures the recovery of these materials while preventing hazardous substances from being released into the environment. E-waste recycling requires specialised processes to safely handle and recover valuable components.

Batteries

Batteries, including rechargeable batteries and single-use batteries, can contain toxic substances that can harm the environment if not properly disposed of or recycled. Battery recycling helps recover valuable metals and prevents the release of hazardous materials into the ecosystem.

Tyres

Tyres can also be processed with tyre recycling machinery and turned into rubber mulch or rubber crumb, which is then used in the production of new products such as sports pitches, playgrounds, construction materials, rubber mats, etc.

Enhance your green recycling operation

At Gradeall, we have an impressive collection of waste management machinery that can process a range of different materials and waste. If you would like to speak to someone about achieving green recycling initiatives within your operation, don’t hesitate to get in touch with a member of our team. 

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