The Science of Recycling

Science of Recycling

Apr 22, 2020

Have you ever wondered what happens to your empty beverage containers after you drop them off?

We should all work to leave the planet in a better state than we found it. Returning empty beverage containers to Sage Hill Bottle Depot is just one way to do that. Keeping recyclables out of our parks, streets, landfills, waterways and wildlife environments is critical to the long-term health of our planet.

But have you ever wondered what happens to your empty beverage containers after you drop them off? Keep reading to find out!

Plastic Containers

Plastic bottles are dangerous for the environment: it takes one bottle approximately 450 years to break down in a landfill. If you consider all the plastic bottles you will use in a lifetime – that adds up quickly and dangerously.

After you drop off your plastic bottles at Sage Hill Bottle Depot, they are sorted by type of plastic. There are two primary types of plastic used for beverage containers which are Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) and High Density Polyethylene (HDPE). PET is often used for water or soda containers, while HDPE is often used for thicker items like yoghurt containers.

Once containers are sorted by plastic type, they are sorted by colour and shipped to the recycling facility where they are washed, cut up, melted and pressed into strands of plastic that can be repurposed into new plastic containers, carpets and even upholstery!

Glass Containers

Even though we can keep making new glass, since it’s primarily composed of an abundant resource (sand – which is made of silicon and oxygen), it is much more economical to recycle! Recycling glass can be done endlessly without loss of quality or purity. Over one tonne of natural resources is saved for every tonne of glass recycled!

Once you drop off your glass beverage containers at Sage Hill Bottle Depot, they are sorted by material types and shipped to a glass recycling facility. There, they sort it by colour and wash it before crushing the glass into small pieces known as cullets.

The cullets can be melted and reformed into new glass containers, glass sand for water filtration, countertops and flooring and even construction materials!

Aluminum Containers

Whether it’s a favourite can of soda or a local Calgary beer, we all go through lots of aluminum containers – and it’s the most valuable material in your empty container bin! Aluminum demand continues to grow and recycling aluminum saves 90% of the energy as manufacturing new containers.

Once our valet staff have unloaded and taken in your empty aluminum beverage containers, they are taken to a recycling center. In the center, the cans are sorted and cleaned. They go through a re-melt process that turns the aluminum cans into molten metal, which also removes any coatings or inks from the metal.

The aluminum is then turned into blocks known as ingots. These ingots are sent to mills where they are repurposed into new items including cans, packaging, rain gutters and window frames!

Tetra-Paks and Cartons

Tetra-paks and cartons are just another recyclable beverage container that can take on a new life. Cartons are primarily made of paper, which is easily broken down into pulp for manufacturing. These containers also typically have an aluminum lining or plastic coating (or both) applied to the interior to prevent the paper from breaking down when it comes into contact with liquids.

Once you drop off your tetra-paks and cartons at Sage Hill Bottle Depot, they are taken to a recycling facility where giant machines known as hydrapulpers separate the paper from the aluminum or plastic coating. The paper can be recycled into paper products, tissues and packaging materials. But don’t worry – the aluminum and plastic coatings also receive a second life and can be recycled into construction materials.

No matter how many containers you go through in your household, it’s important to remember to return them to Sage Hill Bottle Depot. Join our community on FacebookInstagram and Twitter to stay up to date with Sage Hill Bottle Depot news, events and tips!

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