We sort in order to recycle. But what kinds of things can be recycled?
Thanks to our sorting efforts, fewer trees need to be felled (recycled paper), less oil is needed (recycled plastics) and we produce less CO2 emissions (recycled glass vs. new glass) etc. So it is very important to keep on carefully sorting and recycling.
Glass and paper are given a second life
The best known and oldest separate rubbish collection is probably of glass. Broken glass has since antiquity been melted down to make new glass objects. A more recent phenomenon, which has now become a reflex, is the collection of paper and cardboard. In the past, youth movements earned a bit of change by organizing a major annual “paper chase”. Now, used paper is collected from homes by the waste disposal services.
Our organic waste turned into fuel
Aluminium (cans), plastic (packaging) and drink cartons are also diligently sorted in Belgium. We put them in the bag for PMD (Plastic, Metal and Drink cartons). And recycling of organic waste is also increasing. If we don't throw our fruit, vegetable and garden waste (GFT) on our own compost heap, then we can give it to the waste collectors. Green waste is processed in large silos to become compost, and during that “fermentation” process, our potato, carrot and onion peels also give off biogas, a natural fuel.
Then there are the types of waste that you can't dispose of in the sorting bags or boxes. What can you do, for example, with light bulbs, leftover medicines, batteries, old paint, pottery, broken appliances or construction waste? For those types of waste, there are separate rules. You can take almost all of them to a recycling centre and deposit them in the appropriate container. For batteries and household appliances, there are also many other collection points. Use them: nature will thank you!
For some people, recycling is a mission. Just think about all those interior design fans who have turned “upcycling” into an art form.
For some people, recycling is a mission. Think of the many interior decoration fans who have turned 'upcycling' - making something new from a used object - into an art:
- a worn-out colander turned into an industrial lampshade
- an old racing bike handlebar makes a perfect coat rack
- a pallet embellished with colourful cushions serves as a hip armchair
You can find many similar ideas for giving worn-out objects a new life.
Did you know that there are many surprising large-scale recycling initiatives? For example, a Spanish company is collecting plastic from the sea floor and turns it into a nylon-like thread used for making trendy clothes. In Kenya, washed up flip flops are turned into works of art, while in Mali, women use the same material to make colourful bracelets. Closer to home, wood from scaffolding is used to make robust furniture. And a town in the Netherlands recently got a new sidewalk whose tiles are made of abandoned fishing nets pulled out of the sea.