HOW TO UP YOUR RECYCLING GAME PART THREE: Closing the loop and Up-Cycling.

It's the end of our recycling series and we're well on our way to becoming recycling pro's and getting the warm and fuzzies from filling our recycling bins - I think it's safe to say we have 'upped our recycling game'! So now that our kerbside bins are brimming with recycled materials, what's the next step in the recycling game? Our waste is being processed at recycling centers and made into new products, but this crucial step in the process is often neglected, that is, closing the loop and buying products from recycled materials. From toilet paper to clothing, bags and furniture, there are many household products made from recycled material that are excellent quality.

What exactly is 'closing the loop' all about? 

Closed Loop Recycling is a sustainable approach to managing the life cycle of a consumer product. Post consumer recyclable materials are collected and reused in the process of making the same or other products, minimizing the stream of waste. Recycling breaks down the base material so that it can be remade into a new product. 

The closed loop process is as follows: 

closed loop

This process can be as simple as using recycled aluminium to make new cans, or as complicated as weaving reclaimed plastic bottles into polyester for clothing and other products. It is important to maintain the demand for recyclables and for us as consumers to choose our purchases wisely. The more we buy recycled products, the more demand we create and consequently, more products will begin to be made from 100% recycled content.

Benefits of Closed Loop Recycling:

Did you know that over 90% of what we use as consumer products will end up disposed as waste within 6 months? That’s a lot of trash! As we attempt to lower this percentage, there needs to be more focus on what happens to products at the end of their ‘useful’ life. There are numerous benefits to closed loop recycling including reduced environmental burden via carbon emissions, water consumption and reduced costs through material and energy savings. A more sustainable world would include the consumption and disposal of all consumer products via the closed loop system.

A Few Tips:

  • Look for products made using or made completely from recycled materials.
  •  Explore products and brands specializing in recycled products.
  • Try to replace items in the household with recycled products, you might be surprised by the type of products made from recycled materials, i.e. clothing or bags from recycled PET (plastic water bottles). 

While recycling does lengthen the lifespan of materials, ultimately products are still destined to end up in landfill and this is where 'Up Cycling' can help minimise waste. 

What is 'Up Cycling'?

Instead of breaking down the original material, 'Up Cycling' refashions an old item into new. It's the creative reuse of unwanted or otherwise wasted products and materials into new materials or products with better value or quality than the original. This practice reduces the amount of waste that we produce and the need for new virgin material.  

A Few Tips: 

  • Before buying something new, consider what we already have that can be up cycled. Before throwing things into the bin, consider whether it has other possible uses. 
  • Buy vintage and repair  or  recondition instead of buying new. 
  • Get creative - use this as a motivator to let yourself be creative and take on some up cycling weekend projects. 

Now that we are all recycling gurus let's spread the word with family and friends to help up their recycling game. 

Happy recycling! x