Where does it all go?

You probably recycle like most Mainers do. But did you ever wonder where your recycled stuff goes?  Does it just become garbage? Or is it reincarnated as something else?

We have more and more plastics in our recycling bin these days – plastics from berry, yogurt, some kinds of milk, cottage cheese, eggs, lettuce containers – you name it, it seems to come in that recyclable plastic. What happens to it all after you’ve pitched it into the dumpster at your transfer station?

Our Maine EPA tells me it becomes new containers, part of that new kind of plastic and wood lumber, buckets, rugs, backpacks, insulation for sleeping bags, even stadium seats, depending on the types of plastic.  We certainly make a major contribution or so it seems.

What about all that cardboard from cereal, crackers and other food boxes? A lot of it goes to make, well, more boxes, as well as paper bags, toilet and paper towel rolls, and that paper backing on your roof shingles, and much more.

We seem to have less paper to recycle now that we no longer get a daily paper, but do get the weekly one and that along with the freebee paper and various store ads, and all kinds of junk mail begin to make up a full box by the time we head for the transfer station.

So what is all that paper used for? Newspapers and those newspaper store ads can be made into new newspapers, insulation, and that light cardboard stuff used for some berry boxes and egg cartons.

We have fewer glass bottles and jars since a lot of those are made from plastics, but what glass we toss in the recycling dumpsters is used for new jars and bottles – duhhh – and fiberglass for insulation and shingles and other products.

And cans? We still have a few, especially when we have soup for lunch, and those cans are used for – more cans of course – but also for bike and car parts, steel beams and the rebar used to reinforce concrete, along with those appliances in your kitchen.

So when you recycle, you’re actually helping make so much else that you will soon buy and recycle once more.

Does recycling never end?

 

Bill Baker

About Bill Baker

Bill's interest in a clean place to live is rooted in growing up in the country – a cornfield across the road and fields, sandstone cliffs and hundreds of acres of woods where he spent many hours.