At Texas Disposal Systems we've been working to find ways to apply emerging recycling principles to the thoughtful use of the day-to-day materials that make our lives easier, richer, happier ... and more sustainable. It makes great sense to partner with cities such as San Marcos to address these issues by developing practical ways to collect and re-process lots more of the things we used to throw away, and putting our heads together to come up with innovative solutions as we move into the future.
Sometimes the new products are just like the old ones. Most old aluminum soft-drink cans become new aluminum soft-drink cans. Most glass drinking bottles become new glass drinking bottles. That's called "closed-loop" recycling. Aluminum, for instance, may be the perfect recyclable. It can be reconstituted time after time without breaking down. It's incredibly strong: Four six-packs can support the weight of a 4,000-lb. car. (Don't try this at home.) In fact, we have enough aluminum in circulation today that - if we recycle all of it we might not ever have to make new from scratch again.
But some really innovative thinkers are coming up with new products that aren't anything like the original ones. That's called (you guessed it) "open-loop" recycling. Old plastic bottles are being processed and reconstructed as a kind of fiberfill insulation to keep winter coats and sleeping bags warm. Old tuna and soup cans are being turned into small appliances and bicycle parts and steel beams. Samsung makes a cell phone out of reworked plastic. Some jewelry artisans are capturing silver from old photographic film and re-smelting it to make beautiful earrings and necklaces.
There's even a farmer in Shaanxi Province, China, who built a solar water on the roof of his home with 66 empty beer bottles and some old hose pipes. (No word yet on who helped him empty the bottles.)
The list is only limited by how creative we are at finding new uses — and how careful we are to recycle instead of throwing stuff away.