Which item can be recycled many times?

GLASS AND METAL CAN BE RECYCLED ENDLESSLY. Unlike plastic, glass and metal (including aluminum) can be infinitely recycled without losing quality or purity in the product. I used to think that plastic water bottles could be recycled infinitely, that every time I threw one in the blue bin, it turned out to be another plastic bottle. Turns out that's not the case.

Some materials can be recycled endlessly, but plastic isn't one of them. The only plastics that can be recycled more than once are durable plastics. These items are like bottle caps or our mother's tupperware. Unfortunately, once they become a recycled item, they will have to be converted into fabric, since their recycling potential will have been exhausted, as will the plastic in the bottle in which the cap originated.

Aluminum can be recycled in many different products, such as tractor trailers and car bodies, however, aluminum cans are often converted into new aluminum cans. Recycling aluminum doesn't reduce the quality of the metal, so it can be recycled indefinitely. With a constant demand for aluminum cans, manufacturers can once again have an aluminum can on store shelves as a new can in as little as 60 days after it has been recycled. The production of new cans from recycled aluminum saves 95% of the energy used to produce cans from ore, known as bauxite.

Maine aluminum is shipped out of state and is primarily used to make new cans. Like many, I thought that once I threw my garbage in the blue (recyclable) bin, it could be infinitely recycled. Be sure to ask your local recycling center what types of glass they accept, as different types of glass have different melting points and cannot be recycled together. Of course, keep in mind that recycling facilities in India are still scarce, so much of the recycling itself involves very inefficient methods.

It's made up of long fibers, so every time paper is recycled, those fibers get shorter, making it difficult to recycle the next time. Many residential recycling programs in Maine collect several types of paper, such as cardboard, magazines, or junk mail, in one category. But now that I know that metal and glass containers are the best option, I'll always choose them first, regardless of access to recycling facilities. All metals have an unlimited lifespan and it's always a good idea to recycle them, no matter how much you have.

Aluminum cans are the most valuable recycled item in the United States and have the highest return rate from the moment they are dropped off at a recycling center or picked up in the landfill. If you're interested in knowing how much money you can earn as an ecological warrior, read The Basics of Recycling Scrap for Money. Plastics can often be confusing because there are many different types of plastics on the market and these different types cannot be mixed when recycled into new products. Paper is made up of long fibers, so each time it's recycled, those fibers break down and shorten, making it difficult to recycle the next time.

Vickie Zaidel
Vickie Zaidel

Freelance music maven. Gamer. Infuriatingly humble pop culture evangelist. Avid travel aficionado. Incurable tv maven. Lifelong internet nerd.