Before one understands the fundamentals of recycling, let’s see why we bother with recycling in the first place! Every day, industrial establishments generate immense amounts of toxic waste that are deadly to the environment. Recycling helps reduce the emission of greenhouse gas and landfill space by a large degree. Energy is also conserved when we use the waste materials to make new stuff. Let’s see some of the methods that can be used to do so:
Breaking the waste down
As an environment-friendly alternate to landfills, industrial composting systems are now being used increasingly. To break down biodegradable organic waste into useful products, microorganisms are used. The resultant produce from this process is also being used as an alternative fuel in some countries. Currently, composting takes place in most Western countries and is mandatory in quite a number of them.
Burn it to make it!
Some materials can be remelted to form new objects. Take plastic bottles; they can be converted into clothing-grade polyester! The problem with this method is that every subsequent time the process takes place, levels of unwanted substances increase. Industrial transformers, oil filters, and large containers are often recycled through this method.
Most waste materials contain energy content to some degree. This energy can be used for cooking, heating and generating steam, by heating the waste at high temperatures with limited oxygen availability. Using this type of thermal treatment, the energy content can be processed into alternative fuels too.
Harnessing the Harmful Gas
Recycling promotes the avoidance of landfills altogether, but since dumping waste in an abandoned area is so ridiculously inexpensive, landfills are still quite common. Thus, as part of resource recovery, the harmful landfill gas is captured and harnessed to generate fuel or electricity.
Reclaiming the Waste
In reclamation, waste is processed and useful material is extracted from it. For example, mercury can be recovered from broken thermometers. Lead can be reclaimed from batteries and paint. Many solvents that have been used can also be distilled for reuse, like acetone.
These are only some of the ways that are being used today to recycle industrial waste. Recycling non-industrial waste is a whole other area. The reason that recycling of industrial waste is usually given much more importance is that, the amount of solid and liquid waste being dumped each day by industries is flabbergasting to say the least!