Plastic is usually the first thing that comes to mind when we hear about recycling, considering the alarming amount of plastic waste dumped in the ocean. But there are much more recyclable items that we can find within our homes, including some types of glass, paper, aluminum, and textile.
Food scrap is one household waste that’s perfectly recyclable as well. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, around 474 pounds of food waste are generated by a typical household each year, and 90% of garbage dumped by households, dining establishments, and supermarkets are food scraps.
Instead of throwing away leftovers and other wastes in the garbage can right away, let’s explore some ways on how we can reuse or recycle them. We’re no strangers to the benefits of recycling — it helps clean up the environment and dispose of hazardous waste safely.
Recyclable Household Wastes
To identify which items can be recycled, search for the recycling symbol on their packaging. The universal recycling symbol is the one with three arrows that are either filled (♻) or clear (♲). This symbol means that a product can be recycled or it has recyclable content.
The most common household recyclable waste are as follows:
- Glass bottles and jars
- Drink cartons
- Aluminum cans and foils
- White goods (appliances)
- Hazardous wastes (aerosols, medicines, bulbs, cleaners, fluorescent tubes, adhesives, solvents, weed killers, fertilizers)
Soda plastic bottles can be recycled through shredding them, turning them into fibers for the polyester lining of pillows, quilted jackets, and sleeping bags. Other recyclable plastic materials can be used to create garden furniture, plastic bags, PVC pipes and flooring, to name a few.
For papers, recycling them at home can pose a fire hazard, so it’s recommended that you have them transported to a paper mill. For used glasses, they can be crushed and turned into “cullets”, which are used to create new glassware.
Used clothes and textiles that are still in good condition can be resold or donated. If otherwise, they are recycled into carpet underlay felt, furniture fiber fillers, or machine-wiping cloth.
Aluminum cans and foils are melted and rolled to create new cans once again. Appliances like dishwashers, refrigerators, washer and dryers, cookers, and toasters are dismantled, and the parts are segregated into ferrous and non-ferrous metal, with the rest being disposed of. Computer and television parts may also be recycled. All recyclable parts or salvageable appliances are resold.
Used cooking oil or yellow grease can be recycled and sold to household oil recyclers, who clean them to be reused in animal feeds. Mineral oils (lubricants and fuel oils) are reprocessed and re-manufactured.
Lead batteries are crushed and its acids are drained. Button batteries, on the other hand, undergo a thermal process before being recycled. Domestic rechargeable batteries can also go through the same process to recover its iron, nickel, and cadmium contents, all of which are used to create stainless steel.
Hazardous waste should be transported to waste management facilities that will dispose of them properly and safely.
Ways to Recycle Household Waste
Food waste can be recycled through composting, which is the process of breaking down organic waste into an earth-like mass. This mass can then be used as soil conditioners. Find out if your neighborhood has a common composting facility, so you can bring your food and garden waste there. You can also perform composting yourself. Have a compost bin in a dry and shady spot in your backyard, making sure it’s close to a water source. Pile all your organic waste in the bin and moisten them regularly. When the wastes have decomposed, you can use them as garden mulch.
You can also donate your food wastes to farmers and livestock owners, who’d use them for their animal feeds. You can also donate to zoos, avid gardeners, and recycling companies.
Segregate all your wastes properly and have them collected by local recyclers or drop them off to a nearby recycling facility. Your wastes will then be transported to recovery facilities where they’d be sorted, cleaned, and processed.
But the best way to manage household waste is to reduce and reuse them. Minimize your consumption of disposable products, so they can be reused, resold, or donated.