No one needs to tell you that the Earth is having a hard time keeping up with human production and consumption.
The amount of toxic inputs pouring into our waterways, spewing into the air and soaking into our soil is of large proportion – and while we are making headway combating our wasteful ways, there’s still much more we can do.
Resource recovery is one such important way we can do that. Taking waste products – materials that would otherwise rot in landfill or float out to become yet another toxic piece of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch – and instead turning them into usable materials of future products, is an excellent step toward a cleaner future.
Accordingly, we need to understand what resource recovery is, how it works and who’s already doing it right.
What is Resource Recovery?
The common perception of resource recovery is that it means clean burning of waste. This is true, to a certain extent. Incinerating non-biodegradable items that would otherwise sit in landfill, such as plastic film, is an excellent way to reduce their contribution to the municipal solid waste stream and the resulting chemicals that leach into soil and groundwater.
However, this isn’t the only example of resource recovery. We need a more comprehensive definition if we’re to make the necessary strides toward a cleaner future.
“Resource recovery is the process of recovering materials or energy from solid waste for reuse,” explains Encyclopedia.com more expansively. “The aim is to make the best use of the economic, environmental, and social costs of these materials before they are permanently laid to rest in a landfill. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and environmentalists have set up a hierarchy for resource recovery: reduce first, then reuse, recycle, incinerate with energy recovery, and landfill last.”
Examples of Recycling Processes That Contribute to Resource Recovery
You may not realize it, but you’re already quite familiar with several examples of resource recovery. Waste items such as aluminum cans, paper and cardboard, plastic bags and bottles, glass and foil are all recoverable, which is why you put them into your curbside recycling bin once a week and put them out for collection. From there, they travel to recycling plants where they are sorted, cleaned and prepared for new uses.
Other examples of waste recovery include:
- Stripping Christmas lights, computer cords and other such electrical components for the wires contained within
- Extracting precious metals and other valuable materials from cell phones and electronics
- Separating out fertilizing materials such as nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium from sewage
- Pulling water from wastewater and putting it back into the system as clean, potable liquid
- Producing bio-diesel from the algae that grows in sewage
- Powering fuel cells through bio-gas, released from the breakdown of waste in the absence of oxygen
- Recovering heat from wastewater that enters waterways hot as a result of industrial processes
- Using paper, plant matter, food scraps and other organic materials to create compost, which can fertilize gardens, agricultural fields and municipal projects
- Taking “waste items” and refurbishing them to work like new, such as electronics, appliances, kitchenware, instruments and more
Another excellent use of the resource recovery process is turning hazardous and non-hazardous waste materials, which otherwise would have to be stored indefinitely or disposed of at a treatment facility, into clean, reusable products.
How Temarry Is Doing Their Part
Temarry is on the cutting-edge of waste recovery processes in North America. We believe wholeheartedly that most waste materials have life left in them, and it is up to all of us to find ways to recover that life.
That’s why we have stepped forward, helping to turn waste recovery technologies into meaningful contributions to the environmental effort.
For years now, we have been working on our solvent distillation process that enables us to extract valuable, otherwise toxic solvents and return them to the industries that use them.
For each 100 gallons of solvents distilled, 30 gallons of still bottoms are generated to be blended with ash. This process ensures all waste is recycled and kept out of the landfill.
This also ensures companies that send their waste to us meet all local, state and federal regulations, while eliminating waste streams and helping preserve the environment.