Every individual, business and building creates waste -- much of it recyclable. Even so, it's not uncommon for reusable and recyclable materials to end up in landfills. Although the 34% overall recycling rate in 2010 was an improvement over previous years, there's more we can do. The question I'd like to address is this: How can businesses adopt more sustainable waste management operations?
The U.S. struggles to compete with the recycling recovery rates and sustainability efforts of a number of European countries such as Denmark, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany, whose recycling rates range from 70 to 80%. While the disposal of a product should be considered by the manufacturer of that product, oftentimes the consumer or business is left responsible for disposing of waste safely and appropriately.
There are extended producer responsibility (EPR) laws in place to make manufacturers take responsibility for the full life cycle of their products from design to disposal. The EPA also funds grants to provide new infrastructure for collection and materials processing. Even with these efforts, businesses, universities, hospitals and other organizations are adopting sustainable waste management operations to ensure that recyclable and reusable materials are not wasted in landfills.
Many organizations separate glass waste, yet much of it still ends up in landfills. Since glass is not biodegradable, it will take up space forever. This is why it's so important to make sure waste is going where it needs to go. There are multiple uses for recycled glass, including the creation of more bottles, fiberglass, tile and flooring, countertops, bricks, match heads, aggregate materials, abrasive media, and landscaping products. Find hauling options in your area.
Steel and aluminum packaging are already two of the most recycled materials. In fact, by recycling almost 8 million tons of metals, we've eliminated the greenhouse-gas equivalent of more than 5 million cars from the road per year. Hazardous waste is another factor to consider when recycling metals. Often contained in steel aerosol cans, cleaners, polishes, disinfectants and insecticides, hazardous waste is commonly found in the workplace. A way to dispose of aerosol cans properly is with EPA-verified can puncturing systems that secure cans, relieve pressure, and collect the residual liquids, turning containers into recyclable scrap metal. This is a sustainable solution that also allows businesses to save by cutting out traditional hazardous waste disposal methods.
The plastic waste recycling recovery rate stood at 8.2% in 2010, which is staggeringly low compared to the metals recycling rate of 35%. Similarly to glass, it's not just about the collection of plastic waste, but making sure it's going to the right place. Plastics are typically collected from curbside recycling bins or drop-off sites, taken to a material recovery facility, then sorted, baled and sent to a reclaiming facility. More sorting occurs, plastic is washed and ground into small flakes that are then dried, melted, filtered, and formed into pellets. These pellets are shipped to manufacturers where they will become new plastic products. Find hauling options in your area.
Katec Incorporated has been in operation for almost 29 years as a specialty tool supplier to the U.S. Military and manufacturing facilities throughout North America. Katec has become known for selling unique tooling to a niche market.