The carbon footprint of an individual is the amount of emissions caused by his activities, expressed in carbon dioxide equivalent.
The harmful effects of carbon footprint are as follows:
- It leads to global warming
- It is responsible for drastic climate changes
- It causes economic losses and severe diseases
- It leads to soil, water and air pollution
- It disrupts the appeal of the area
- It can potentially destroy several ecosystems and our environment, if not regulated
Below are 6 recycling methods for specific products to reduce your carbon footprint:
The first step of every recycling method is to dispose of the waste in respective bins to make sure it reaches the right recycling experts.
The paper collected from bins are mixed with water and chemicals in paper mills to break it down. It is then chopped and heated to further break it down into a type of organic plant material, strands of cellulose. It is known as slurry or pulp. The pulp is then strained through screens to remove plastic or glue residue.
Then it is cleaned, de-inked, bleached and mixed with water to manufacture recycled paper. Paper has different grades, and similarly, recycled paper is also manufactured in different grades for a variety of purposes. The three types of paper waste are as follows:
- Mill broke– Paper trimmings and paper scrap from manufacturing is termed as mill broke.
- Pre-consumer waste– Paper material which is discarded after it leaves the paper mill, but before it reaches the consumer.
- Post-consumer waste– Paper waste which is discarded after consumer use.
Expert advice- Apart from contributing to paper recycling by disposing of carefully, you can also go paperless by using digital platforms and their features.
The most complicated method is for recycling electronic waste because there are numerous types of waste generated worldwide. E-waste is first collected from bins and sorted (preferably by hand). Then, it goes through a size reduction process where the waste is shredded into pieces to ensure the data is destroyed. Then, the small debris is shaken to evenly spread the waste on the conveyor belt to further break it down.
Metals are separated from the debris with the help of strong magnets. The metallic waste is resold as raw materials, while water is used to separate plastic from glass. The materials which can be reused are resold to different vendors while the waste which cannot be reused is disposed of in an environmental-friendly way. Types of e-waste are mentioned below:
- Computer monitors, laptops
- Wires, circuit boards
- Transistors, RAMs, resistors
Expert advice– You can reuse hard drives from laptops as external storage devices and old cell phones can be used by children for games and emergency purposes.
Most plastic waste is non-biodegradable, which makes recycling an essential concern. The first step with plastic is to sort it as per the resin type. Some plastic waste is separated as per the colour as well. The waste is then chipped and melted into pellets. The waste often undergoes different processes to remove impurities to ensure the recycled product is not of low quality. Many types of plastic waste are mentioned below:
- Plastic bottles
- Polythene bags
- Plastic cups, knives, forks and spoons
Expert advice- Plastic bottles can also be reused as plant holders and containers for different items. You can reduce your consumption by using reusable plastic bottles.
4. Rubber items
Many components of a tire are ecologically problematic. Tires are highly durable and non-biodegradable; taking up a substantial amount of space in the landfills. Tire pyrolysis is a method in which the waste tire (whole or shredded) is heated in a reactor vessel, in an oxygen-free atmosphere. The rubber polymers break down into smaller molecules, which eventually vaporise and exit the reactor. These molecules are either burned directly to produce power or condensed to form an oily liquid, which is later used as fuel.
Expert advice- Repurpose old tires as swings, innovative seating or as part of your training equipment.
The fabric used in clothing usually consists of cotton and synthetic plastics. Its composition directly affects the method of recycling to be used. Fibre mills grade the fabric into material and type. It is also sorted into colours which means no re-dying is required. The fabric is shredded into shoddy fibres and mixed with other fibres, depending on the intended end use. This mixture is carded to clean & mix the fibres. The mixture is ready for weaving or knitting, and can also be compressed to produce matrices.
Expert advice- You can donate old clothes to the needy. It will not only help them against harsh temperature conditions but will also make you happy.
Different metals are recycled with different methods, such as:
- Tin and steel– Most of the tin cans are made of steel with an exterior layer of tin to protect it from rusting. The waste cans are dipped in a caustic chemical solution to strip off the tin layer. Then an electrolysis bath is used to attract the tin to a plate to completely separate it from steel. The collected tin is melted to turn it into metal cast or ingot. The steel is sent to steel mills to melt it down in a furnace to make molten steel, which is then poured in moulds to manufacture new products. Steel can also be separated from waste with the help of magnets.
- Copper– It is graded before recycling to maintain a certain quality and standard. It is melted to achieve a finer quality with fire refining, and then the hot copper is oxidised and turned into ingots or billets.
- Aluminium– Small aluminium products are shredded prior to melting. The process is somewhat similar to steel recycling. The molten metal is turned into ingots, while large pieces are stored to be manufactured into large sheets to be used in making cans or casting cars.
Expert advice- A much higher percentage of energy and other resources can be saved by metal recycling because it consumes relatively less energy to recycle than to manufacture products from scratch. Recycle and reuse now!
Take The First Step
Although not every method can be practiced at home, the first step of every method starts right at your doorstep. So, if you are willing to contribute to the health of the environment, then take a step now!
Author Bio : Jessica Duddon works as the marketing leader for AWA Refiners, the UK’s leading company in computer board recycling.