Aluminum can sculpture, made out of approx. 2,500 used drink cans. Its volume roughly equates to the amount of carbon monoxide created when one aluminium can is discarded

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Recycling is the process of collecting and processing materials that would otherwise be thrown away as trash and turning them into new products. Recycling can benefit your community and the environment.

How Trash Is Recycled (video 6:23) – Did you know that 70% of our trash can be recycled? Join Reading Rainbow while we celebrate Earth Day in this video field trip all about the life cycle of recycling.

Recyling (video) – a scientist talks about why recycling is important

  • aluminum cans – how they are made – recyclability is important

Recycling symbols – now the symbols associated with recyclable items. It helps a lot if you put recycling in the appropriate bin.

Some examples of recycling specific materials

  • Recycling glass bottles – Putting crushed-up glass into roadways was previously the go-to option for what to do with the stuff, since it was just about impossible to separate broken glass from the other stuff in the recycling bin in a cost-effective way. Now, however, better sorting technologies mean recycling companies can isolate clear glass—that’s the stuff you want, if you want to turn it back into bottles–through a hi-tech series of automated processes.
  • Reuse-A-Shoe – Turn old sneakers into places to play. Nike Reuse-a-Shoe takes worn out athletic shoes and grinds them down to create a new material, which is used to make high-quality sports surfaces including courts, turf fields, tracks and more.

Recycling services – many more people recycle if it is easy or cost effective.

  • Wecyclers – Nigeria – Many households in developing countries lack reliable access to waste management. Low-cost cargo bicycles and an SMS-based incentives platform offering convenient household recycling services in densely populated, low-income neighborhoods. 3,000 households in Lagos, Nigeria, registered for service. As one of the The Tech Awards 2013 Laureates this project has been recognized as providing an innovative solution to a problem with significant social impact.

What’s the problem?

  • Ask – Why is recycling important? What are some of the resources that we will use up? Why is this a problem?
  • Imagine – What are some of the steps being taken to encourage recycling?
  • Design, Build – What would help you remember to recycle? Is this a practical solutions?
  • Improve – Is current recycling worth the bother?

That’s engineering

  • Strong magnets are used to separate out ferrous metals (tin-plated or steel cans), while non-ferrous metals are ejected by magnetic eddy currents.
  • ferrous – indicate the presence of iron, mostly in metallurgy or related industries.
  • non-ferrous metals – metals that have no iron in them at all.

Engineering ideas

  • collection, sorting, reprocessing

Do it
Here are some challenges for you to work on…

  • Find some facts about recycling that are interesting.

Learn more…