Technology allows many products to be recycled and, more importantly, turned into money for Purple Heart donations and other charity organizations. Here are five donated materials that can be recycled:
Clothing can be recycled into many products. In fact, even though almost all textiles are recyclable, each American is responsible for adding 70 pounds of textiles to landfills every year. Textile recycling by charities not only contributes to Purple Heart donations, but it also reduces the burden on landfills.
Recycling textiles begins by sorting textiles into natural fibers, including synthetic blends and synthetic fibers. Each type of textile is recycled differently.
- Natural fibers and synthetic blends are sorted by color so the end product has a consistent color without being re-dyed. The textiles are then typically shredded, cleaned, and mixed. In one process, the mixed fibers are then spun into yarn that can be woven into new fabrics. In another process, the mixed fibers are compressed for insulation or furniture stuffing or deposited onto a surface coated with adhesive for insulation, sound proofing, or decoration.
- Synthetic textiles, such as nylon, polyester, and acrylic, are broken down into granules of plastic. These granules can be fed into an extruder that compresses, heats, and melts the granules. The melted plastic, along with a solvent, is pumped through a spinneret to form new filaments that can be woven into new pieces of fabric.
Technically speaking, leather is not recycled since it comes from the hide of an animal. However, it is possible to “repurpose” leather by converting it from one form to another. Although it is not talked about very often, repurposing leather can be one of the most environmentally-friendly acts in which you can partake. For example, repurposing a damaged leather couch could:
- Prevent the couch from entering a landfill
- Create new goods such as purses, wallets, or belts without requiring new hides or the toxic chemicals used to tan hides into leather
- Generate cash for Purple Heart donations
The process for recycling plastic is very similar to the process of recycling synthetic textiles. Plastic is sorted by type, then washed and mechanically shredded until the plastic forms pellets.
The pellets may be used to make many different products. For example, plastic bottles and jugs are often made from recycled plastic. Similarly, recycled pellets may be extruded into structural material used to build playground equipment, park benches, and fencing. As discussed above, plastics may be spun into filaments that can be woven into fabric. And certain types of plastic can even be formed into building insulation.
Electronic devices contain many recyclable materials. Electronics also contain many toxic materials that can be hazardous if they are not handled properly. Thus, recycling electronic devices not only converts them into Purple Heart donations, but it can also save the environment from contamination by lead, mercury, phosphorus, and other toxic substances.
Electronics recycling begins with workers disassembling the electronics by hand. Glass from display screens and glass tubes can be recycled by melting it down to produce new glass objects. Other electronic parts need to be processed further to extract the recyclable materials from them. For example, circuits and electronic components may contain small quantities of metals that are worth recovering, such as gold, copper, and silver. Plastics can also be extracted and recycled.
After separating recyclables by type, they are typically melted and purified so they can be reused.
Scrap metal can make very valuable Purple Heart donations. Some metals, like scrap steel, copper, zinc, tin, and precious metals can literally be worth their weight in gold.
Scrap metal is sorted by type and shredded. The shredded metal is melted, purified, and formed into bars or sheets. Although energy is required to melt the recycled metal, it is less than the energy required to mine and smelt virgin metal.
Recyclable materials can be valuable. Donating them can save them from landfills and result in a contribution to your favorite charity.