Reusing, recycling and upgrading (upcycling) objects to make them into something better is not a new concept. Although, people have begun to turn household and industrial trash into treasures to work towards a more sustainable future.
Here are some of the innovative ways people are recycling
Reusing for craft & jewellery
Melting down glass and metals can produce some incredibly beautiful and fashionable jewellery pieces. Glass can be blown into a range of beads and pendants. Metal can also become a range of attractive pendants and charms. But why stop there?
People are using all sorts of unwanted materials to create unique, bespoke pieces. Recycled bottle caps can make for a fun pair of earrings or an interesting pendant. While strips of recycled newspapers can be rolled up tightly into lovely beads. Cutlery can become a stunning wind chime and old CDs can be used to create a dazzling mirror frame.
Recycling Mobile Phones
Mobile phones are not built to last and the average person upgrading their phone every couple of years, leads to a lot of waste. Luckily, there are many companies who are addressing this problem.
Mobile Muster is a government accredited, not-for-profit mobile phone recycling product that claims to have recycled 1,168 tonnes of materials and saved 9,400 tonnes of C02 equivalent greenhouse gas emissions. Since 1998, they’ve collected 9.95 million mobile handsets and batteries.
After people hand in their unwanted phones, the company dismantles them and sort them into components: batteries, printed circuit boards, handsets, chargers/accessories, plastics, metals and paper/cardboard packaging. Then, the batteries are sorted into chemical types and processed for cobalt, lithium and nickel. Nickel-cadmium is turned into stainless steel and copper. Circuit boards become precious metals like gold, silver and lead.
The pure plastic handset casings are shredded by local Australian companies to produce composite plastic fence posts or plastic wood planks for garden beds and furniture. The copper wiring goes to local metal recyclers for reuse, and any other accessories or mixed plastics are shredded, with the plastics being separated from the ferrous and non-ferrous metals for re-use to make shipping pallets; the metals sold on to manufacturers.
Recycling Plastic Beer Rings
We’ve all seen the heartbreaking images of animals getting caught up in our rubbish, especially those pictures of the plastic packaging used to keep six packs of beer together. The animals’ necks become caught in them and they can be strangled, or their quality of life severely lessened.
A Florida company has created an innovative idea to kill two birds with one stone, that doesn’t actually kill any birds at all. Saltwater Brewery has made edible six-pack rings that feed the animals. Made out of beer by-products from the brewing process, like barley and wheat, the beer rings are totally safe for fish to eat (and humans for that matter!).
The rings are 100 percent biodegradable and compostable, as well as being as efficient as plastic packaging.
Recycling Plastic Bags
As well as reusing plastic bags for shopping, there have been some innovative ideas to keep bags out of landfills. Some really bright ideas have come from the art, science and business communities.
Very clever researchers at the University of Illinois have discovered a method for making diesel fuel and petroleum products from old shopping bags. Energy used in the conversion process is much less than the energy recovered.
An entrepreneur in India mixed plastic with asphalt to form a compound used to build roads, which last longer and wear better than normal roads.
Turning plastic bags into concrete bricks is an interesting process created by Henry Miller, a graduate of a New York university. And an American company developed composite decking as an alternative to wood lumber by collecting sawdust from reclaimed wood, and recycled plastic from plastic shopping bags, newspaper sleeves, dry cleaning bags and food storage bags.
There is so much still to learn about recycling, but the options are endless if we put our minds to it.