Post-Holiday Recycling: What Can Be Reused?

After the holidays, many people are preparing to throw away Christmas trees and other holiday decorations. Others are rejoicing in their brand new devices and throwing away their first generation electronics that don’t work as well anymore. Though imagebrite deals in mostly plastics recycling and reuse, we are interested in the recycling and reuse of all materials. Electronics and Christmas decorations are two popular items that can be recycled right now – and two types of items not many people know can be reused!

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Image Via.

According to a recent Earth911 article, “the amount of plastic bags, sacks and wraps used in the U.S. is 89 billion.” That’s a lot of material that turns into waste when its no longer needed. However, the article notes that “a recent [2012] study identified over 15,000 [plastics recycling] drop-off locations around the country for plastics recycling and determined that over 70 percent of Americans have one of these bins available in their community.” That means we are on our way to a more recycling and reuse friendly society – from imagebrite’s work with businesses nationwide to the reuse and recycling of everyday household items like plastic bags and bottles.

Post-Holiday Recycling

At imagebrite, we refresh and refurbish building signs, road signs, awnings and other outdoor advertising items that millions of locations use to beckon new customers. If these signs are not refurbished, they are usually replaced once they become faded. This results in tons of plastic littering the earth in “sign graveyards” or regular landfills.

Sign graveyard

Especially after the holidays, plastics and other materials – though, admittedly much smaller than signs, but in aggregate just as harmful to the environment – are discarded without a second thought. That’s why it’s important to shift focus to keeping items out of landfills. Many cities have programs for Christmas tree recycling. Throwing away your Christmas tree – whether it is plastic or the real deal – can waste a lot of materials that could be recycled and reused. Plus, all those decorations you don’t want anymore? Someone else might love them! Re- gift them or donate them – don’t waste them! That’s how you can do your part in keeping items out of landfills.

Strides in Recycling

While some companies are just hopping on the recycling bandwagon, others are innovating the industry as a whole.

Electronics

We come across articles everyday that highlight new and interesting trends in the recycling industry. One such article, by the Daily Herald, delves into the relatively new process of recycling electronics like older iPods and television sets. According to the article:

“The holiday gift-giving season will bring a fresh crop of electronic waste to Green Citizen, part of the 2.4 million tons seen each year, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. As consumers buy new gadgets from Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co. and trash their old wares, Kao, Green Citizen’s chief executive officer, expects his company to see a 30 percent rise in waste from November to February.”

Because so many people are receiving electronics as gifts for the holidays, their older items are falling by the wayside (or more accurately, falling into dumps across the country). Much of this waste ends up in landfills in under-developed areas overseas, leaking mercury and other toxins into the environment. According to the article, “About 80 percent of U.S. electronic waste ends up on container ships and then ditched in developing countries, where companies hire workers to extract the core minerals without any environmental or worker-safety oversight.”

The company highlighted in this article, Green Citizen, works to eliminate this issue by collecting these disposed devices in California, determining whether they can be refurbished and sold (many can – about 21%), and recycling the remaining parts of the items. The company has a team dedicated just to taking apart the unwanted gadgets and sorting the different parts into different recycling bins.

Innovations

While some companies focus on recycling what would end up in a landfill, other businesses like eco-friendly cleaning products company Method focus on what has already ended up as litter. According to an informative piece on AmericanRecycler.com:

“One of our largest environmental problems is the millions of tons of plastic waste that wind up floating in our oceans and washing up on beaches. It’s not only unclean, but a massive waste of raw material that should otherwise be recycled. Most importantly, it’s an ecological disaster affecting marine life and ultimately human health. Finding new ways to prevent or recover discarded plastics from rivers and oceans could be a gold mine business for 21st century entrepreneurs. Imagine how larger streams of recycled plastic could reduce our reliance on virgin material and the related energy consumption and pollution consequences.”

Method recently launched a new type of sustainable packaging – made from post-consumer recycled plastic and plastic recovered from the ocean. This company is making waves (pardon the pun!) in the recycled package area, and serving as an example to other companies looking to “green” their bottling and packaging practices. Innovations like these allow for hope that our outlook on the coming years will be “greener.”

Learn More About Imagebrite

imagebrite’s focus on reuse and recycling stems from our eco-friendly sign refresh and refurbishment process. Learn more at imagebrite.com or give us a call today at 1-866-991-4810!

Related Information:

Out of The Ocean and Into Your Home

Save TONS of Plastic

Revolutionizing an Industry, The Eco-Friendly Way

Tons of Plastic Can Now Be Saved

Keeping Waste Out of Landfills: A Collective Effort

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