What Materials Can Be Recycled?

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Materials that can be recycled include oil, batteries, glass, metal, plastic, paper and oil. Find out the difference between reusing a product and recycling a product with information from a math and science teacher in this free video on recycling.

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Hi I'm Steve Jones and I'm going to tell you a little bit about what kind of materials can be recycled. This is in fact an area I work in myself, I work in a recycling company. But I have written down a list of the kinds of materials which can be recycled, but there are also other materials you might think about, which is oil, that is cooking oil, that also can be recycled, and things like batteries themselves. So we have to think about all these different types of materials. And let see exactly what can be recycled, and what we mean by recycled. Strictly recycle does not mean reused in the same way. So for example a glass bottle can be washed, refilled, and the material sold. So this is not recycling this is reuse, much of glassware is reused not recycled. However, when the bottles have contained all manner of nasty materials, you wouldn't like to use a bottle which has had petrol in it and then fill it full of milk. So obviously those bottles would be recycled, that is the glass would be broken, ground, melted and cast into new materials. The material might not be very pure, it might not be strong and therefore this glass might not be as good as the original glass, but this is recycling, it is being reused as a new material. If you look at metals, there are ferrous metals, that is metals that are magnetic, iron, steel, non ferrous they are aluminums and all of these, and some valuable metals and dangerous materials, poisonous metals which are very often found in small quantities in electronic goods, they also can be recycled. I mean gold is often removed from integrated circuits in electronic circuits, so those all can be recycled. Once you remove the iron you melt it down and you can cast it into new things. Again the quality of the metal is not good as the new metal, but it can be used at a lower grade of work, things that don't have to be so strong, etc. Plastics are the big one now and days, many plastics are biodegradable. Now this is a huge advantage in that they can be put in a landfill or they can be put in a composting area and they will degrade into the constituent parts, and basically they disappear over about two years. There are non biodegradable, these are the worst, and plastic bags are amongst them. We end up with hundreds of these things and you can't get rid of them, but the answer is, you can actually do something with them, and for example, non-bio, we can make fence post. You literally heat them up, stick them together, cast them into a fence post and that saves chopping down forest to make fences. So they are things we can do with plastic, otherwise you can melt some plastics down and reuse them. Again it's a lower grade, a lower quality of plastic. The most common one of course that people often think of is paper, paper can always be recycled. The problem is there are different qualities, very different qualities, most is inked, that is it is paper which has ink or other impurities on it or in it and therefore gives you a very low quality, low grade of paper as a result. You can get very clean paper sheets which aren't inked and need to be recycled, then they produce good quality paper. So the quality depends on what you start with, this is exactly the same for each of these materials. For oil we can very often use it to replace petrol and diesel, and batteries are a problem, but to remove things like lead from batteries is absolutely essential and it saves using a lot more lead than we need to. So that roughly is how we deal with recyclable materials.

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