Recycling much of our waste is now second nature, but there’s a whole world of recyclables out there that can’t go into council bins. And brave companies are stepping up to the challenge of finding ways to recycle some pretty yucky items. So slip on some rubber gloves, clip on a nose peg and dive into our list of the yuckiest things you can recycle.
#5: No More Flush In The Pan
While you average toilet probably has less germs in it than your average dish cloth, we instinctively think of toilets as the dirtiest item in the house. And when old bowls are done with flushing they can take up a heap of space in the dump.
Most toilet bowls are made of porcelain, and while we wouldn’t want them recycled into dinner plates they can be crushed and mixed into concrete, footpaths and roads. You’ll never know they are there. Many local council recycling centres will take old toilet bowls, so check with yours.
#4: Urine (In Space)
Just the challenge of going to the toilet in the weightless conditions of space hardly bears thinking about, let alone what to do with the “product”.
The International Space Station has a couple of water recovery systems which can produce emergency drinking water and oxygen. Now scientists are working on a system that produces both drinking water and electricity from urine. Not quite rocket fuel, perhaps, but real peeple power.
Back on Earth we’ve known that urine is a fantastic fertiliser since the dawn of agriculture, so “watering” the lemon tree is another excellent way to recycle wee wee.
#3: Cigarette Butts
Old cigarette butts with someone else’s spit, tobacco dregs and assorted toxins move us higher up the yuck league. In just a few months Terracycle Australia has collected over 1.5 million cigarette butts and recycled them into a range of plastic products such as park benches and rubbish bins. This program helps to keep one of the most commonly littered items off the streets and out of our waterways. And with Terracycle Australia looking for more collection “brigades” to join the program, many millions more butts can be collected.
#2: Dirty Nappies
Second on our list of our gross recyclables is dirty nappies. Already up and running overseas, Australian company Relivit is currently raising funds to build a nappy recycling plant near Sydney. It aims to be up and running in 2015. It will also process other “absorbent hygiene waste” such as adult incontinence aids and female hygiene products. The process recovers wood fibre, plastic and the super absorbent polymer contained in these products, allowing 95% of this type of waste to be diverted from landfill.
While it might not seem as gross as dirty nappies, mercury has some pretty nasty side-effects when introduced into our landfill in the form of old lighting, mining waste, batteries, e-waste, dental amalgam and old medical products.
As these products break down, mercury escapes into the water tables, building up in fish and other animals, often ending up on our plates and drinking water. Exposure to mercury in food and water can have disastrous side effects, such the dreaded Minamata disease.
Doing Your Part
While we don’t recycle dirty diapers or cigarette butts, as one of Australia’s leading recyclers, we do our best to keep dangerous mercury out of waterways and waste streams.
If you’re a business with lighting, battery or e-waste that needs recycling, we can tailor a solution to collect and process your waste. We’re also able to help with medical and mining waste.
Call us on 1300 32 62 92, or fill out the form and one of our recycling specialists will be happy to design a recycling program specifically for you.