What Happens to Commercial Recycling After It Is Collected?

20th Dec 2021

Almost every business creates commercial waste, and you have a legal duty to make sure that you dispose of it properly. Dealing with commercial waste is not the same as dealing with domestic waste, in that it cannot automatically be collected by the local council. As a business, you must decide on the best way to dispose of your commercial waste – would you prefer your local council to collect it or get a private waste disposal company to do so?

Another major aspect that you need to consider is your business’s waste recycling. With regulations and legislation relating to the necessity for businesses to recycle amounts of your commercial waste, as well as the environmental impact of recycling, and the boosting of your reputation for doing the right thing, recycling your commercial waste is more important than ever.

So, you have decided that you want to recycle as much of your commercial waste as you can. What happens to it after it has been collected?

Commercial Waste Recycling

Whether it is paper and cardboard, plastic, glass, metals, or another material, many different types of commercial waste can be recycled instead of sending it to the landfill. Before you look at what happens after your commercial waste is sent off to be recycled, it is important to know how it should be prepared.

Recycling companies often ask that the different materials are separated into different groups – much in the same way that domestic recycling is usually separated. You might have separate bins, for example, or you might have specialist commercial recycling equipment. Balers and compactors, for example, can be used to collect these materials together, store them neatly and tidily, and be easily picked up by recycling companies.

Once Your Recycling has been Collected

When your commercial waste has been collected, it is usually sent to a recycling facility where it is separated if it has not been done so already.

At this point, any paper that has not been baled already by the business itself will be separated by hand and baled, ready to go to a paper recycling mill. At the paper recycling mill, the paper is separated into one of four different grades – low-grade (corrugated board and mixed paper), de-inking grade (office paper, newspapers, magazines), kraft grade (unbleached brown packaging), high grade (un-printed paper and printer cut-offs).

The inked paper is cleaned either with chemicals or using the flotation method (by passing air through the pulped paper and creating a foam that absorbs the ink, which is then skimmed off). The pulp is then passed through a filter that will remove any other contaminants such as glue or bits of plastic.

The pulp is then poured onto a flat wire screen which helps the water to drain out of the pulp before it is put through rollers to flatten the sheet that now resembles paper. The paper is then ironed and formed into a large roll which can then be cut down into smaller usable paper.

Glass is separated and passed under a magnet to ensure that there are no ferrous metals. It is then scanned to make sure that there is no waste and an air classifier is used to clean the glass of any light paper. Once that the glass has been prepared, it is then sent off to the glass recycling plant.

At the glass recycling plant, the glass is separated into one of four categories – container glass (wine and beer bottles, jam jars), float glass (flat glass and windows), cookware (pyrex and tableware), and automotive glass (windscreens). The separated glass is then crushed and cleaned before it is melted and formed into new bottles and jars.

The metals are then separated from the rest of the waste using a magnet or eddy current separator. Magnets are used to attract ferrous metals and eddy current separators for non-ferrous metals such as aluminium. These metals are then baled using a special baler and sent to the metals recycling plant.

Plastics are sorted into different types of plastic, usually by eye, and then a plastic baler separates them and they are then sent to the plastics recycling plant. The plastics are separated according to their polymer, which determines the melting temperature of the plastics, which are then shredded and washed. They are also passed under a magnet to ensure that there are no metals, then dried and melted. When the plastic is melted, it is filtered so that any contaminants are taken out, and the plastic is passed through a wire screen. From this, plastic strands are created and these can then be used to make products such as fleeces or sleeping bags. Other plastic is made into pellets which can then be sent to manufacturers to be used in the production of new plastic materials.

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