Destination – 100% recycling. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

A world without waste, or more precisely, with waste, but recycled one hundred percent into new goods. Is it possible? Perhaps, but the condition necessary would be for the economy not to contain waste that cannot be recycled and is completely unprofitable.

Recycling is one of the methods of environmental protection. Its aim is to reduce the consumption of natural resources and reduce the amount of waste. Recycling involves recovering raw materials from waste products and using them to produce new, sought-after goods. Recyclable materials are marked with a recycling code.

The main principle of recycling is to maximize the reuse of waste materials while minimizing the expenditure on their processing. Thanks to this, the natural resources used for their production and the raw materials for their subsequent processing are saved. In a more general sense, the environment is saved, that is, the environment is protected.

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Many materials and raw materials are recycled today. The most famous of them are glass, paper, cardboard, metal, plastic, tires, textiles, batteries, and electronics. Recycling of food and bio-waste is based not so much on their processing in machines and plants as on their biodegradation, e.g. in composting, thanks to which they are used again as simpler substances. Recycling materials are typically collected from garbage cans and then sorted, cleaned, and processed into new materials to produce new products. Sorting, at least in its first phase, often takes place at the waste disposal stage.

Ideally, material recycling creates new stocks of the same material, for example, used office paper is converted into new office paper, and used polystyrene is converted into new polystyrene. Some types of material, such as metal cans, can be remanufactured many times without any loss of quality. For other materials, this is often difficult or too costly (compared to producing the same product from raw materials or other sources), so many products and materials are “recycled” by reusing them for the production of other materials (eg cardboard).

Another form of recycling is the recovery of constituent materials from complex products, because of their intrinsic value (e.g. lead from automotive batteries and gold from electronic components) or their hazardous nature (e.g. removal and reuse of mercury from thermometers and thermostats).
For the recycling system to work, a large, stable supply of secondary raw materials is essential. In order to create such supplies, in many countries legislative solutions have been applied, such as the compulsory collection of recyclable materials, provisions on deposits for containers, and bans on waste disposal. The assumptions of recycling assume forcing appropriate attitudes and practices of producers of goods, e.g. the production of the most recyclable materials.

Building materials such as concrete are also recycled and reused many times. During recycling, concrete is crushed into fine particles and then passed through a sieve. The end result is new, clean concrete that can be used for paving roads, driveways, and sidewalks. Recycled concrete is mostly used as fine aggregate used for road base construction, soil stabilization, and landscape materials.
This is not a well-known fact, but another basic building material, asphalt, is 80% recycled according to some data. Together with concrete, these are perhaps the first-place materials in this area, at least in terms of volume.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) noted that recycling expenditures reduced the country’s carbon dioxide emissions to the atmosphere to 49 million m³ net already in 2005. In the UK, on the basis of the Waste and Resources Action Program, it was established that the outlays for recycling in this country reduce CO2 emissions by 10-15 million tons per year.

Germany is recognized as the leader in the field of waste management and recycling. They are in first place with a projected recycling rate of around 70%. In Europe, Germany recycles most plastics. Official statistics show that 48.8% of plastic garbage in Germany is recycled. Thanks to the introduction of a recycling system, they managed to reduce the amount of waste by one million tons per year. In addition to introducing a number of strict regulations, the country has implemented a Green Point policy, which means that all recyclable packaging must be marked and must be approved for the use of this mark. Companies also have to pay fees if they use more packaging, which has led not only to a reduction in packaging but also to a thinner thickness of glass, paper, and metal. There are five different containers in the public domain that are used to distinguish between waste and trash.

Recently, the concept of going a step further than the long-known recycling, e.g. the idea of zero waste, i.e. reducing the waste produced to a minimum, has also been discussed more and more often. It promotes an ecological lifestyle according to the principle “the less you buy, the less you throw away”.
Another great concept that takes the battle against waste to the next level is the circular economy. In our current economy, we take materials from the Earth, make products from them, and eventually throw them away as waste – the process is linear. In a circular economy, by contrast, we stop waste from being produced in the first place.

The circular economy is a model of production and consumption, which involves sharing, leasing, reusing, repairing, refurbishing, and recycling existing materials and products as long as possible. In this way, the life cycle of products is extended.

In practice, it implies reducing waste to a minimum. When a product reaches the end of its life, its materials are kept within the economy wherever possible. These can be productively used again and again, thereby creating further value.
This is a departure from the traditional, linear economic model, which is based on a take-make-consume-throw-away pattern. This model relies on large quantities of cheap, easily accessible materials and energy.

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