Big and Bulky: How Oversized Items Get Recycled
For many of us, the act of recycling ends after we place the container at the end of the driveway, or toss our empty bottle in the receptacle. What many do not realize is that there are hundreds of different items that end up in the garbage that can also be recycled. Because these items are too large to fit in a container, most people will just stick them right in with the trash. Ever think about all the recyclable materials in your old mattress or couch? Here are a few of the more common items that are removed from the trash and recycled.
Old mattresses are often overlooked as a recyclable item, but they are actually filled with recyclable materials. Mattresses are usually constructed with wood, foam, cotton, and metal springs, all of which are recyclable. Each year, nearly twenty million mattresses are thrown away in the United States and many end up in landfills. A mattress can take up to as much as forty cubic feet of landfill space, which makes recycling a mattress even more important! Contact your local municipality to find out if they currently have a program in place for collecting old mattresses for proper disposal. If you’re feeling handy, a few basic tools will allow you to break down the mattress into recyclable-sized pieces.
Can you believe that over one billion tires are produced globally each year? As any driver knows, tires usually only last for a few years at a time. Once worn out, they are considered scrap tires, and either end up in a landfill or recycled. With nearly three hundred million tires being disposed of each year in the United States, it’s inevitable that some will end up in landfills. Unfortunately, those tires not only take up a significant amount of space, but also can take up to one hundred years to decompose. Recycling the rubber from tires has been finding its way into more practical uses over the past twenty years, with its use in playgrounds, synthetic turf, and gardening. Next time you see a playground with rubber mulch ground covering, think to yourself that it takes eighty scrap tires to make one cubic yard of rubber mulch.
Wooden Fences, Decks, Flooring, etc.
When we step back and consider just how much construction is taking place across the country, then it should be no surprise that wood scrap from mills, forest waste, construction sites, manufacturing, and residential use makes up a substantial amount of the waste in our landfills throughout the nation. Recycling wood has many benefits, with the most obvious of them all being that it can prevent the need for more trees to be cut down. Processing recycled wood involves cleaning, sorting, and grinding different conditions of wood. As wood goes through this process, it is also exposed to magnets multiple times to check for nails or screws. Most recycled wood ends up being pressed into particleboard, but it may also be used in compost or animal bedding.
That big bulky roll of carpet may have been a pain to remove from your home, but it can be even more of a pain if it ends up in a landfill. Nearly all types of carpet are recyclable because of the plastic used in their manufacturing. Most recycled carpet is melted down into plastic resin to be used in a variety of different items. If your local municipality does not include carpets in their bulk waste pick up, try to contact the manufacturer of the carpet, who will usually be able to recommend a location or contact to have your carpet properly disposed of.
These few items are commonly spotted by Cali Carting trucks as we drive routes throughout New Jersey. Take the time to look into properly disposing of these large, bulky recyclables instead of just dropping them at the curb and hoping they are gone when you get home. Every little bit of recycling that each of us does will make a difference in the big picture, so join us in doing our part to keep New Jersey beautiful.