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Questions tagged [recycling]

using materials that would otherwise be waste to manufacture new materials. For questions specifically on [upcycling] use that tag, for questions on [reuse] use that tag.

57
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5answers
10k views

Which is more sustainable: aluminium can, plastic bottle or glass bottle?

I was wondering which drink container is the most sustainable one, when looking at the big picture (complete life cycle analysis). So far, I can see the few following points: Transport: plastic and ...
38
votes
14answers
85k views

What is the most sustainable way to dispose of shoes?

About once every year or two I come to the point where I have to part with the shoes I've bonded with over my day in day out walks to work, the market, around the block yada yada. Trust me I wear my ...
38
votes
4answers
2k views

Are pizza cardboards stained with oil still recyclable?

I was told some months ago that paper and cardboard recycling processes need clean raw material. In particular, paper stained with oil may be inappropriate to recycle, and should rather be thrown away....
38
votes
5answers
167k views

Can I recycle plastics at home by melting and molding?

I would like to know if it is possible to recycle plastic at home by melting and molding. Is it at all possible? What technique or technology do I need? Can it be done with any plastic? Are there ...
37
votes
5answers
18k views

Is it better to recycle or compost brown paper bags?

When you go to the grocery store, you may get brown paper bags. These can be readily recycled, however, they could also be composted. I would think that recycling requires energy, whereas composting ...
24
votes
4answers
388 views

Is it sustainable or necessary to use potable water to wash waste before recycling?

I live in a major metropolitan area in the United States, and we have a municipal recycling pick-up program. They advise us to wash food containers prior to putting them in our bins, and if an item ...
23
votes
4answers
6k views

How to recover water from washing machine for toilet

In the last years I have been very concerned about the incredible waste of water from washing machine that could be easily used for toilet use, but up to now I have not found an easy way apart from ...
22
votes
5answers
17k views

How should I collect and convert rain water into drinking water?

I would like to convert my current rain gutter system into a collection and recycling process. Currently the water is just runoff and ends up in the storm sewer creating more work for my cities aging ...
19
votes
3answers
1k views

Does waste in public recycle bins (almost) always get recycled?

Dumping recyclable cups (when you forgot your own, or it's dirty) in the public recycle bins seems like an easy decision. But, I've noticed that the recycle bins at places like Starbucks are ...
19
votes
2answers
309 views

Can solar panels be recycled?

There are plenty solar panels installed in the recent years. Their operation expectancy as far as I know is about 50 yrs. This will produce waste for our grandchildren. Please, reassure me, that these ...
19
votes
1answer
511 views

Are rechargeable batteries better for the environment than disposables even if the batteries are recycled?

I try to use NiMH rechargeables in place of regular disposables. The obvious benefit of rechargeables is that not as many wind up in a landfill, but what if you recycle all your batteries anyway? Are ...
18
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5answers
2k views

Large-scale reuse of glass bottles

Reading some comments on the question comparing various materials from which bottles are made, the thought arose: indeed, what prevents large scale collection and reuse of glass tare? When I was ...
18
votes
2answers
1k views

Which is more sustainable: Paper Bags or LDPE Bags?

At the grocery store, many offer a choice between brown paper bags (often doubled) or Low Density Poly-Ethylene (LDPE) plastic bags. If you plan to recycle in either case, which solution is more ...
17
votes
2answers
3k views

Are incandescent light bulbs recyclable?

Can standard incandescent (i.e., non-energy-efficient) light bulbs be recycled? If so, what is the best way to recycle them?
17
votes
1answer
144 views

Long-term sustainability concerns of compact flourescent vs incandescent light bulbs

There is a strong movement to push people away from using incandescent lightbulbs in favor of compact flourescent bulbs in order to save energy, but the pollution profiles of these bulbs are very ...
16
votes
2answers
1k views

Which kind of paper should be recycled and which should be burned?

Paper has a relatively short life-cycle (compared to natural gas or crude oil) and belongs to sustainable materials. Paper can be nicely recycled by: reusing making notes on the other side of one-...
16
votes
1answer
379 views

What percentage of plastic drinking bottles is recycled after use, worldwide?

I often hear that, although plastic bottles can be recycled quite efficiently, only a percentage of them gets effectively recycled. I have heard about shipments to Africa to pile them up without a ...
16
votes
1answer
6k views

Where can I recycle #81 composite materials?

I noticed my pet food bag has a recycling symbol with a new number in it, #81: The only resource I've found about this symbol is the Wikipedia page on recycling codes, which describes it as Paper/...
15
votes
2answers
2k views

Composting teabags?

I have a problem during waste segregation with a small, but often used product, namely teabags. It's a bit of organic matter wrapped in paper, with a thread and staple. The organic part is easy - it ...
15
votes
3answers
4k views

Should I reuse or recycle Ziploc bags?

I'm wondering whether I should wash and reuse my Ziploc bags or if it makes more ecological sense to bring them to a grocery store plastic recycling collection bin. Ideally at home we wash the bags ...
15
votes
5answers
5k views

Can you recycle single serve coffee pods like K-Cups?

Are they recyclable at all? can you pull them apart and recycle parts of them? Are there recyclable alternatives? Many offices including mine are using these to brew coffee in the USA. I personally ...
15
votes
3answers
14k views

Why can't black plastic be recycled?

My local council now takes most types of plastic bottles, pots, tubs and trays in the recycling bin. But they specifically exclude black plastic containers. Is there a reason for this? Why can't ...
15
votes
1answer
144 views

Does transporting plastic offset the benefits of recycling it?

Apparently China has been processing about half the world's waste until this year, and most of that waste is transported over the ocean in large container ships. Recycling plastic uses less energy and ...
15
votes
1answer
168 views

Are Tetra Pak tomatoes more sustainable than tinned?

Lots of UK supermarkets have recently started selling chopped tomatoes in Tetra Paks, rather than the tins they were always in. My first thought was that this was environmentally bad - given recycling ...
15
votes
1answer
253 views

How do I recycle batteries in Argentina?

I have dead batteries and I want to know the best way to dispose of them, ideally by recycling. Here in Argentina there is almost nowhere to take them. We just put them in the garbage.
14
votes
3answers
11k views

How to properly dispose of bubble wrap envelopes?

In those envelopes paper is often glued pretty well to bubble wrap portion, making it hard to separate. On top of that bubble wrap itself is seldom recycled - for example in my area of Ontario, Canada ...
14
votes
2answers
1k views

How can glass be recycled/reused locally in rural communities?

I live in a "remote" part of the USA, where it is prohibitively expensive to ship glass elsewhere for recycling. Because of the small population (the nearest city over 10k people is 110 miles away), ...
14
votes
1answer
23k views

Can carbon fibre be recycled?

Over time the range of products using carbon fibre appears to be increasing. Carbon by itself is probably quite environmentally friendly, but manufacturing of carbon fibre is probably quite expensive ...
14
votes
1answer
1k views

Is it ok to recycle glass bottles and jars with paper stickers on them?

It's kind of hard to remove paper labels glued onto glass bottles and jars, especially if you have a lot of them. Does leaving them on cause a problem in recycling the glass? Does it require a lot ...
14
votes
1answer
341 views

What type of photovoltaic cells are the most environmentally friendly?

Some solar panels use silicon crystals that required careful purification and enormous quantities of energy. Some types use cadmium, which is highly toxic. Several types are noted by Wikipedia. If we ...
13
votes
5answers
294 views

How 'clean' should something be for recycling?

Outside my apartment, there are 3 rubbish bins. One for glass, another for metals, paper and plastics and a third without a label, for bio-waste I guess. So I wonder what are some guidelines for when ...
13
votes
3answers
1k views

What does “reduce reuse recycle” actually mean?

What does the slogan/sticker "reduce reuse recycle" mean? Some people seem to use it as a list of options, others as a hierarchy. But the symbol is of a cycle, so is the order really important?
13
votes
4answers
8k views

Are used “blister packs” recyclable?

Now, in management of recurring everyday waste, this is something totally unavoidable. Are tablet strips (what they call blister pack strips), after use, recyclable? Can they be dumped with dry ...
13
votes
3answers
11k views

What is the relationship between recycling and sustainability?

What are the sound reasons (let's put aside the unsound reasons) why increasing recycling is taken to improve sustainability (or equivalently to reduce unsustainability)? Are there real-world ...
13
votes
2answers
789 views

When recycling paper or cardboard, what level of contamination with (food) oils is ok?

It's widespread knowledge that paper or cardboard contaminated with oil can cause problems in the recycling process, and an often stated rule is that contaminated material should not be recycled. ...
12
votes
4answers
905 views

Why the tiny input openings on recycle bins?

My local recycling bins look somewhat like these: As you can see, the opening can facilitate a single item at a time. How is one supposed to dump a large sack of plastic packages in the plastics bin?...
12
votes
2answers
149 views

How to sustainably deal with garbage?

Is it a bad idea to throw garbage down the public garbage chute? Sustainably speaking, garbage "dumps" & toxic incinerators don't seem like a sustainable method over time. Although maybe someone ...
12
votes
3answers
154 views

Reusing buckets for flower pots?

Is reusing old food buckets as flower pots actually a good sustainability practice or a bad one since I'm ruining good buckets by poking holes in the bottoms? I get the buckets for free from my ...
12
votes
3answers
4k views

Reusing, recycling or disposal of used or expired cooking oil

I have found the article How to Dispose of Cooking Oil where are these suggestions: reuse: filter and put into a freezer or a fridge for later reuse different purpose reuse: lava lamp, snow shovel ...
12
votes
2answers
192 views

What's the most sustainable way of disposing with a used battery?

We are advised by our various governments that the most environmentally-friendly way to dispose of a battery is to give it in to a designated battery recycling plant. But could the process of doing ...
11
votes
4answers
270 views

What alternatives there are to recycling paper?

My parents live in a small place where paper is not recycled. They don't even separate the paper from the rest of the residues. I can't carry their paper away to recycle it when I visit them so I was ...
11
votes
3answers
144 views

Is it better to put something potentially unrecyclable in the recycling bin or to put something recyclable in the waste bin?

This may sound like a weird question, but the other night I was about to throw away a plastic package which didn't have any recycling information on it, and I hesitated before throwing it in the waste ...
11
votes
1answer
9k views

How to recycle paper with ink on it?

In my work and study, I have a lot of printouts - many of which re drafts and redrafts. Is there are a way to recycle printed paper (standard printer paper) without using harsh chemicals and minimal ...
10
votes
3answers
3k views

Is the bag of cat food recyclable?

I am still getting to know the world of recycling and I have come across a minor issue when it comes to learning the difference between recyclable items. I have several cat food bags (OK CAT Health &...
10
votes
3answers
3k views

Would it be possible to recycle all plastic into bricks and use them for building or insulation?

I've had this idea for a few years and wonder if it would be feasible. Rather than simply recycling bottles and bags in blue bins, if there could be a way to melt down all types of plastic and mold ...
10
votes
2answers
145 views

To which container do the cotton things belong?

I have a problem what to do with used cotton clothing (socks etc.). I live in Germany, I have the following choices glass - obviously not the case paper - could cotton be converted into maculature? ...
10
votes
2answers
10k views

Can plastic with only the Japanese recycling symbol be recycled in the US?

I bought a vacuum cleaner that came wrapped in several plastic bags. The bags only have one recycling code printed on them, the Japanese pura māku: Can these bags be recycled with ♴ or ♶ plastic film ...
10
votes
2answers
169 views

printer cartridge recycling

What should I do with my Samsung ML-1640? I see on the internet that toners may be incompatible with printers and Samsung "protects" us from bad quality by expiring their cartridges electronically (...
10
votes
2answers
1k views

Can you vermicompost biodegradable plastics?

I'm looking for a way to recycle biodegradable plastics myself and I was thinking about putting them in my wormery. Does anyone have experience with vermicomposting biodegradable plastics? Is it safe ...
10
votes
1answer
82 views

Recycling items from another country

When I travel to Japan, I occasionally bring back a few items with me (not an awful lot), and they have recyclable containers. Most commonly, I have items categorized as plastic: (Image from http://...