Did you know that 70% of the ‘garbage’ that comes out of our houses and apartments can be recycled or composted?
Recycling is the process of separating, collecting, transporting, processing, marketing, and ultimately using a material that would otherwise have been thrown away. (Recycling is a multi-stage process.)
Recycling has many benefits:
- less landfill space is needed for disposal of garbage
- less energy is needed to produce new goods when recycled materials are used
- less pollution is produced
- fewer resources (petroleum product, trees, metals, etc.) are extracted/removed when we can recycle materials
But notice that we say less energy and fewer resources, not none at all. Recycling takes energy too, in the shipping of materials, in the refining and reforming processes, transportation of newly recyled materials and products…
We try to remember that while recycling is extremely important for the environment and is a great way of reducing waste, it’s not the only (or the first) ‘R’ we need to think about.
That said, if you’re looking to start recycling in your home, school, or workplace, or if you are looking for more tips and information on recycling, please read on! We’ve got some good ideas of places to look for recycling information. Remember that Recycling, while only one of the 4 ‘Rs,’ is an important step!
Closed-loop and Open-Loop Recycling
Paper, cardboard, steel, and aluminum can be remade into what they were to start with. This is called closed-loop recycling. Open-loop recycling occurs when recyclable items are made into something very different from the original products, and cannot be further recycled. Aluminum cans can be recycled over and over again (a closed loop), but a plastic pop bottle has a different process.
Many plastic soft drink bottles (#1 PET) can be used to make insulation for winter jackets, fibre for carpets, and fabric for hats and sweatshirts. Milk jugs (#2 HDPE) can be used to make blue boxes, plastic pails, plastic signs, plastic benches, shampoo containers, and traffic cones.
BUT…when the plastic hat and pail wear out and can’t be used anymore, they can’t be recycled either. This kind of recycling is called “open-loop recycling” because, at some point, the circle is broken and you can’t recycle the material.
Of course, it is certainly important not only to recycle whatever we can, but also to look for recycled content when we do buy products. Purchasing items made from recyled materials helps to close the recycling loop and encourages communities and businesses to keep recycling.
Starting and Maintaining a Recycling Program
For many households and workplaces in Manitoba, recycling programs already exist. The best folks to talk to about changes in the program are the folks organizing it. See if you can be in touch with the providers or the recycling contractors to find out more about the program in your community.
Not all communities have established recycling programs, though! If you are interested in starting a recycling program in your community, school, or workplace, congratulations! Contact Multi-Material Stewardship Manitoba (MMSM) more information on recycling programs for communities.
For more information also see our recycling page.