I learned about recycling first in Saudi Arabia. I remember my friend told me I was doing something wrong because I was throwing my cans and bottles in the trash can. When I first came to the United States I only knew about recycling bottles and cans. I have since realized that there are many more materials that can be recycled, such as paper, metal, and glass. There are also ways to recycle food waste by using composting, which creates good soil for growing new food crops. This all made me want to research to compare how Saudi Arabia is different from the United States in recycling. I found out that Saudi Arabia does not have enough official systems for recycling. The only materials which are recycled commonly are metals and cardboard. I found that there is a lot of potential for the country to increase its recycling.
The trip to the Burbank Recycling Center showed me that many types of plastics can be recycled in different ways at the facility. Plastics numbers one through seven are treated differently as the materials have separate uses and safety levels for recycling. I also found it interesting that Burbank residents can drop off certain items which should not go in the bins, such as batteries, fluorescent lights, or electronic waste. This keeps it out of the waste stream so that it will not pollute any air or water.
I also became very interested in the finances of recycling, mostly whether recycling centers can earn a profit. I learned from an article at GreenBiz.com that the financial success of recycling centers constantly goes up and down depending on the value of the commodity. The value for plastic and metal, for example, goes up and down depending on the demand. The material which is the most difficult to earn profit for is glass, and that the current demand for glass is very low.
I am also very interested in the ability to recycle plastic for making building materials. A company in Colombia called Conceptos Plasticos has already built homes, shelters, classrooms and community centers using bricks made of recycled plastic. I learned from an article in class called “Plastic House”, that these types of houses can be durable, safe, and cheaper than traditional materials. My family works in real estate and I would like our company to start looking at this possibility. It is cheaper than using traditional materials and it also has a major benefit to the environment.