In an ideal world, 100 percent of items that are recyclable will be sent back to the production and consumption cycle, reducing the amount of waste sent to landfills and the amount of new material needed to create goods. Since we’re not there yet, it’s important to look at where we’re succeeding and where we could do better.
Metals are strong, durable and relatively easy to separate from other materials. This made them one of the first items that we recycled, and it’s the one that has caught on the strongest in the minds of the public. While there may be confusion about whether to put a plastic grocery bag in the recycling bin or not, everyone knows that metal cans should be recycled. Despite this common knowledge, the recycling rate for steel cans is 70.7 percent and 55.1 percent for the aluminum cans used for beer and soft drinks, although they are still the most recycled products by volume. This can seem particularly foolish when many companies will pay for metal recyclables.
Batteries for vehicles are secondary cells that use a lead-acid combination which discharges to power components and charges thanks to the vehicle’s alternator. In addition to the typical family car, this type of battery is used for industrial equipment like forklifts and small battery-powered vehicles such as golf carts. While the battery design keeps drivers from having to plug in or replace a battery every other trip, they do contain corrosive chemicals that shouldn’t be left inside a landfill. Thanks to regulations and incentive programs, nearly all lead-acid batteries are recycled rather than discarded.
Computers, smartphones and other digital components are made from a complex collection of various metals and minerals to create a physical network that translates streams of electrons into funny cat videos and everything else found on the internet. Many of these elements are rare and valuable, such as gold or palladium. Tossing old computers into the dump may one day lead to a world where none exist, so it behooves everyone who would feel naked without their smartphone to recycle old electronics. Despite the value of retaining computer components, they don’t even make it to the list of most recycled types of products.
If you are worried about any information remaining on the device before you hand it over to the recycling center, there are many helpful guides online that can tell you how to properly remove data so that it cannot be retrieved.
Improving the Rate of Recycling
In order to get recycling percentages closer to 100 percent across the board, it is necessary for private individuals, companies and government agencies to all do their part. You can do your part by just signing up for a recycling program and correctly sorting your waste before collection. Residents and businesses in San Diego County can contact us at Debris Box for help assessing your waste management needs and determining how profitable a recycling bin could be for you.
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