Why do people call me garbage

recycling Why recycling is important

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There are many treasures in our waste: raw materials and recyclable materials that can be recycled. That is why we separate our garbage and collect metal, glass and paper. This creates a cycle that protects our environment. However, separating plastic is difficult.

By: Börni Schulz and Veronika Baum

Status: May 1st, 2019

Separation of waste is important: anyone who collects paper, cardboard and cardboard helps to save energy and water.

Recycling, i.e. the reuse of rubbish, is simple in itself: old glass bottles, for example, are melted down and new bottles made from them. This is not a problem with glass. Even with metals such as tin cans, aluminum parts or copper cables, it is relatively easy to recover the valuable materials from the waste. The same applies to paper. The word "recycling" contains the English word "cycle" - that means cycle: old becomes new. With our favorite packaging material, plastic, it is unfortunately much more difficult to bring the plastic back into a cycle and to recycle the material.

Everything made of "hard plastic" is collected in this container - from old garden chairs to watering cans.

There are many different types of plastic and not all of them can be recycled. You can tell whether plastic can be reused by the recycling symbol that is embossed on the bottom of the bottle, for example: a triangle made of arrows with letters in the middle. Then maybe it says "PET". This is the abbreviation for a certain type of plastic. With so-called "hard plastic" recycling still works relatively well. It is abbreviated with the letters "HDPE" or "PP" in the recycling symbol. Mop buckets, laundry baskets, watering cans or garden chairs are made of this material. The old or broken plastic items are shredded into small pieces and melted down again. The softer types of plastic "PET" and "LDPE" are also easy to recycle.

Plastic has to be sorted

Plastic waste is sorted very laboriously by hand on a conveyor belt.

For good recycling of plastic packaging, it is important to separate the different types of plastic precisely. This is especially true when different substances have been closely linked: with beverage cartons, with paper cups with a plastic coating and with many other types of packaging. Here paper, plastic and metal foils are welded together and it is almost impossible to completely separate them again. Most of these "composites" have to be incinerated as garbage.

Last station: waste incineration

Everything that is not properly separated is burned in the garbage stove, including the so-called bulky waste: There is lacquered wood as well as a broken sofa or old skis. The residual waste from the garbage cans also ends up here in Bavaria: in Munich, for example, in the northern heating plant. This is where electricity and district heating are produced.

Avoiding waste is best!

In many recycling centers - such as in Hall 2 in Munich - you can buy "found objects" from the garbage very cheaply.

Separating valuable materials and recycling them again is important. It is just as important, however, not to create so much waste in the first place. This also includes not just throwing everything away. Many recycling centers accept items in good condition so that they can be resold cheaply by the community, for example furniture or electrical appliances.