The term “recycling” refers to the operations related to changes in physical, chemical, or biological properties of the waste in order to prepare it for environmentally safe storage, transportation, disposal, removal, or reuse. The most common is the recycling of materials such as paper, glass, textiles, aluminum, iron, asphalt, and various plastics. In addition, the organic farm and household waste is anciently used in agriculture.
Methods of recycling depend on the content and include waste incineration, burial in designated areas, dumping at sea. Organic waste can be used as fertilizer after processing. Nuclear and toxic waste is usually buried or drown in the sea, but that does not completely remove the risk of contamination. England, for example, flooded in the North Sea 550 tons of ash from thermal power plants. In the Irish Sea, 80 tons of uranium is flooded per year and 300 million gallons of waste daily. In 1988, 80 thousands tons of waste were imported to the UK for recycling.
The most promising way to overcome the negative impact of waste on the environment is the transition from landfill disposal to the industrial recycling.
The main reasons for preferring recycling to other methods of disposal are:
- First, the resources of many materials on Earth are limited and cannot be restocked within the time compared to the time of the human civilization existence.
- Second, once in the environment, some materials are contaminants.
- Thirdly, waste and products that have completed their life cycle, often (but not always) a cheaper source of many substances and materials than natural sources.
Many different wastes can be used again. For each type of raw material there is the technology of recycling.
To separate waste into different materials, different types of separation are used, for example, magnetic type to extract metals.
A common method of putting both hazardous and solid waste is a landfill disposal. It is estimated that Europe annually produces 24 million tons of hazardous waste, 75% of which is buried.
This landfill burial is the least preferred method for the waste that can be recycled, utilized, or used in other ways. In the EU, incineration is more popular compared to direct disposal of waste at landfills, which arose initially as a method of waste disposal and then turned into the energy industry, because of 1 ton of solid waste gives heat equivalent to ½ tons of coal.
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