Nov 18, 2009 12:47 PM by Jamie Smith
Recycling technology has come a long way. Everything from broken glass to tires and plastic bottles can be turned into valuable products, from jackets to countertops.
At the Plyler Paper Stock Company, a recycler in Charlotte, North Carolina trucks roll in office trash from 250 businesses and industrial parks. What used to be trash is considered treasure. "Instead of taking it to the landfill we take it back into a warehouse," said Rita Plyler of Plyler Paper Stock Company.
Workers sort through old papers and soda cans, transform them into huge blocks and give them a new recycled life. "The mills we ship to are making facial tissue, paper towels thing along that line where paper can easily be reused", Plyer said. "The aluminum cans actually turn back into aluminum."
The plastic can be made into items from clothes to shipping material. And, it only takes just five recycled plastic bottles to produce the lining for a ski jacket.
In dozens of cities, you can get a little spring in your step from rubber pavements made from recycled tires. That helps save the environment, and solves some headaches like cracked concrete from roots of trees. Rubber sidewalks have a gentler surface, and the seams between them allow water to penetrate, making it healthy for the tree roots.
Jon Hager in Grand County Colorado used old tires to build his dream home. "We came up with the concept of building them into the walls of the house," Hager said. The rubber is super insulation that saves on heating bills.
For remodeling, broken glass is one of the latest trends. Combined with mirrors, porcelain, aluminum shavings, even oyster shells, it creates colorful windows, countertops and flooring. "It doesn't stain. It's hard. It gives you sparkle," said Tim Whaley, Founder, Enviroglass Products.
For individuals and businesses being eco-friendly is part of lifestyle that experts say is here to stay. "It's very important that consumers collaborate with businesses both by partnering with them on their recycle efforts, collection process as well as purchasing the product at the end that's recycled," said Ruth Kinzey, Corporate Reputation Strategist
And at the end of the day, pop a cork on a bottle of wine, but don't throw it away. Your pile of corks could become part of a new floor.