Recycling Gold, Silver & Other Precious Metals

For centuries, man has had an undying relationship with precious metals. These metals like gold and silver are prized not only for their beauty but also value. This is the only logical explanation for the high number of gold and other precious metals that can be found sitting in central bank vaults and jewelry boxes. According to U.S Geological Survey, there is roughly 171,300 tons of gold that have been mined in history. This is rising at a high rate of 3000 tons every year.


While nothing is wrong with gold, its mining is very bad for our environment. For every ring of gold, there are roughly 20 tons of toxic wastes being generated. And the toxic substances used in the process of mining the gold like mercury and cyanide pollutes both the air we breathe and the water we drink. In fact, gold mining is the number one source of mercury pollution. It is even ahead of coal-fired power stations.

Therefore, we cannot possible continue enjoying these precious metals when they wreak havoc on our planet. Options include using mining methods that are more eco-friendly. This might mean stopping dumping the toxic wastes into oceans and rivers or stop using things like mercury and cyanide. However, the best solution is recycling of the gold that we have already.

Silver recycling

Silver is normally found in electronic and electric scrap, photographic wastes, coinage and jewelry. Given that silver is used for several different things, recycling it is very important. The demand for silver increases as the population grows. Many ways exist to enable reusing and recycling of silver. They include the following.

Scrap Silver


The simplest way to recycle silver and turn it into silver bars.  Your local coin & bullion shop can assist you with this.  To view the types of silver bars that can be made with your unused silver, check out the photos & resources at

Selling or donating

If you have a silver jewelry, consider selling it to any jewelry store or even donating it to an organization. This way, the silver will be reused. Alternatively, the jewelry store could melt and recast it to form new jewelry.

Continue reading “Recycling Gold, Silver & Other Precious Metals” »

Recycling Industrial Waste Products

Industrial wastes if left unattended to can cause a lot of damage. Recycling industrial waste products makes a great impact in the world. It helps preserve the natural environment for ourselves and our future generations. It is apparent that the more years go by, the more the need for better management of waste products. This is because as the wealth increases, people buy more products and create waste. When the population increases, it means there are more people to create more waste.

Lifestyle changes such as fast food and new packaging and technological products are developed, meaning more products are more biodegradable. There are regulations that are in place to demand that industrial companies are recycling their wastes rather than disposing them off and damaging the environment.


The practice of recycling is no recent phenomenon. There are claims of the practice dating back to Plato in 400 BC. At this time household wastes such as broken pottery and tools were recycled because resources were limited. They were thus reused when new material was unavailable.

Before the industrial period, scrap bronze and other metals were collected and melted for reuse. Dust and ash from coal and wood were recycled as a base for brick making. In these times, recycling offered and economic advantage.

Industrialization catapulted the need for affordable materials. This is why scrap metals were sought after more than virgin ore. The railroads from the 19th Century to the automobile industry of the 20th Century, there was a need for the utilization of scrap metal. Peddlers made a living collecting pots, pans, machinery and sources of metal from dumps, city street and even door to door. This especially became more rampant during World War I.

Continue reading “Recycling Industrial Waste Products” »

Go Green & Recycle Glass


Most of the inorganic waste in our homes can be recycled which is good news for the environment and all of us in return. The worrying trends of global warming, depleted ozone levels and air pollution are making the scenes of the After Earth movie appear more and more realistic. Recycling glass is pretty easy as it can be recycled an infinite number of times without it losing its quality, purity or strength. It is one of the most widely recycled materials with some countries like Belgium, Finland and Switzerland recycling over 90% of their glass and the UK recycling more than 50% of their container glass. In the US 5% of the garbage is made up of glass.



Recycling is not a new concept but rather one that has been around since the BC era. Archeological evidence uncovered over time shows that in the imperial Byzantine times, glass was recycled in the Sagalassos, the ancient city that is present day Turkey. Recycling of other materials like bronze coins and metals and using them to create other items like statues or weapons was a common practice in those periods. Even before the industrial revolution which made recycling a trend, recycling was still being practiced because it made economical sense to recycle some materials instead of using virgin material. Recyclable materials like aluminum and glass were used until they became too worn to be of any further use. In Britain, bricks were made using dust and ash as their base materials and scrap bronze as well as other metals in Europe were melted down and recycled in a perpetual cycle.

After the establishment of the environmental movement which was established in the 1960s, recycling became popular resulting in the establishment of drop-off recycling centers. A major milestone in the journey of recycling was covered when a universal symbol for recycling was introduced. The symbol was a Mobius strip which was designed in the later half of the 1960s by Gary Anderson. This was after a recycled-container company which was based in Chicago sponsored an art contest that was aimed at raising environmental awareness. The triangle has been used as a representation of the hierarchy of recycling that encourages people to reduce, reuse and recycle. The interest in recycling was also increased because of the rising energy costs that were being witnessed in the 1970s.

Continue reading “Go Green & Recycle Glass” »

Recycling wood for furniture

Wooden furniture has a tendency to be the best alternative for the individuals who are looking to enhance a piece. This is for the most part due to the flexibility of wooden furniture. Nonetheless, with enough diligent work and ability, any sort of furniture might be transformed from a junkyard item, into a showstopper.

Most importantly, you have to know where to get some great furniture with a lot of potential.

Where to find used furniture

There are numerous spots where you can discover modest and utilized – yet quality – furniture in your neighborhood. Firstly, you have to get your involved some grouped ads. These are the most widely recognized and mainstream path for individuals to dispose of their old furniture. This incorporates paper ordered ads and on the web, so there is something for everybody.

You can discover anything in the classifieds including, tables, seats, couches, wardrobes, and all different sorts of furniture. It’s exhorted, on the off chance that you are purchasing from a notice, to ask to see it first. It is never a great thought to purchase anything without having the capacity to provide for it a trial run.

There are a few sites that offer you an allowed to gatherer’ choice. These are extraordinary as you should simply turn up and take the furniture off their hands. These sites are extraordinary and for a large portion of them you need to give something first before you can gather something for nothing yourself; which is reasonable enough.

Other great spots to buy second hand furniture might be auto boot deals and philanthropy shops. Never forget that regardless of how shabby, old and worn the furniture may look; with a bit of sanding, a lick of paint and some decent varnishing, you can make it look just out of the plastic new.

Continue reading “Recycling wood for furniture” »

About Downcycling

Recycling is becoming more popular as a way of both reducing the amount of waste we send to landfill and of conserving valuable or scarce resources. The second of these advantages could turn out to be the most important – many natural resources are limited, and when we’ve used them they’re gone forever. Recycling can make a huge difference to availability by making new products out of old ones instead of freshly extracted raw materials. Even renewable resources come at a price – land used for growing pulp trees might be more valuable for grazing livestock, if paper can be produced from recycled pulp instead.

It’s important to remember that recycling isn’t a magic bullet though. It can make a big impact, but one problem is that recycled materials often aren’t the same quality as the original waste was. This means that what’s recovered might not be suitable for making the same kinds of products, or might only be capable of recycling a limited number of times before it’s no longer usable. Improved technology is reducing this issue in some areas but it’s still very real. It even has a name – “downcycling”.

Continue reading “About Downcycling” »

Recycling Paper

Recycling PaperPaper is one of the biggest challenges to modern waste disposal. Paper makes up around 35 percent of domestic waste by weight and can cause significant problems in landfill. Huge quantities are used for disposable products such as newspapers and packaging and while the basic raw material – softwood – is renewable, significant amounts of energy and chemicals are used in the production process.  Most paper is produced using woods such as birch or aspen, but other fast growing trees such as poplar, ash and empress tree varieties are commonly used.

Tulip-poplar-TreeMany kinds of recycling are aimed at recovering scarce raw materials; electrical scrap, for example, contains valuable metals. Recycling plastics reduces the amount of oil used for producing new materials. That doesn’t really apply to paper because most new pulp is made from sustainable softwoods grown for the purpose. However converting raw wood to paper is an energy-intensive process, and while modern mills generate most of their power by burning scrap wood and bark this can create significant carbon emissions. Waste paper is usually printed, and as it decomposes in landfills the ink leaches out into the ground. This often causes heavy metal contamination of soil and even the water table.

Continue reading “Recycling Paper” »

Recycling Plastics

Plastics have revolutionized consumer goods. Cheap, versatile and durable, they’ve made whole classes of new products possible and reduced the price of others to the point where everyone can afford them. They’re a nightmare from a waste disposal point of view, though. Many types of plastic can take hundreds or even thousands of years to biodegrade. Huge quantities have ended up in landfill since the early 20th century and more is floating in the oceans, sometimes forming artificial islands of trash dozens of miles across. As well as the environmental damage of all this junk there’s the resources used to make it; most plastics are made from oil, a vital but finite resource. Efficient recycling of plastic waste is vital.

Because there are so many different plastics a wide range of recycling technologies are used to deal with them. Efficient sorting is key; different types often can’t be mixed to produce even low-grade material. Early systems worked with bulk waste that had been presorted by type but modern recycling plants use infrared technology to identify and automatically sort different varieties of plastic. These can then be processed appropriately.

One of the biggest challenges is plastic drinks bottles, made from polyethylene terephthalate (PET). Tens of millions of these are discarded every day in the USA, and unlike older glass bottles they can’t be reused. They can be processed into other products though.

First, bottles are sorted by color. Most of them are clear, making the process easier. Once sorted they’re washed and shredded into small flakes. The washing and shredding process removes scrap like labels and bottle tops, which are made of different materials. The clean, flaked PET is compressed into bales and sold for reuse.

Flaked PET can be heat-formed into a variety of products. It’s often used for packaging materials; clear PET waste can be made into clamshell or blister packs, used for packaging many small items. If it’s appropriately sterilized it can be made into new food containers; molten PET is blown into molds to produce new jars or bottles. It can also be injection molded for a variety of purposes.

One use that’s becoming increasingly popular is fabric manufacture. Heated PET flakes can be spun into fibers, which can then be woven into cloth. The result is a strong, hard-wearing fabric, although it’s usually too rough to be work next to the skin. It’s widely used for heavier duty items though, including bags, coats and hats. As recycling becomes more widespread environmentally friendly consumers are increasingly demanding these products.

Recycling plastics tends to be energy intensive, as heat is needed for most stages of the process, but it’s also something that needs to be done on a larger scale than it is now. Plastic in landfills can take a very long time to decompose, and as it does it releases toxins into the soil (and sometimes the water supply). Burial of plastics also adds up to a huge waste of valuable resources. Luckily improved recycling technology is making the process more economical and opening new uses for the recycled material.

Recycling & Landfills

Whenever a new recycling scheme or technology is announced one of its advantages is usually that it reduces the amount of waste going to landfill. In fact that’s one of the most important things new techniques can do – often it’s even more significant than recovering valuable metals or reducing the need for new raw materials. Landfill is a huge problem and the more it can be reduced the better.

A landfill site is one of the oldest methods of waste disposal, along with burning. It’s not much more than a huge version of the medieval village midden, but as the quantities of trash we produce increase the volume of waste going into huge pits in the ground, then being covered over and often landscaped, has skyrocketed. The problem is that a medieval village didn’t throw away much more than broken pottery, bones and old clothing; modern household garbage is filled with plastics, printed paper and old electronic devices.

Modern trash doesn’t simply biodegrade back into the food chain. Toxins in inks and old plastic are leached out by rain or groundwater and can contaminate aquifers. Electronic devices are particularly bad for this, as they contain many hazardous heavy metals. As organic waste rots it releases methane, a potent greenhouse gas – it’s up to a hundred times more damaging than carbon dioxide. Burning waste before burial doesn’t help either, as it simply releases more carbon and toxins into the atmosphere. Large accumulations of trash are a potential source of disease organisms that can then be spread by birds, insects and rodents. Even fire is a hazard – if a landfill catches fire it can burn underground for years, undermining the replaced soil above it and releasing pollutants.

There are multiple solutions to the problem of landfills. Some involve mitigating the issues caused by actual landfill sites, usually by managing drainage and improved capping of filled areas. These are only a partial solution, though. It’s far better to reduce the amount of waste that’s buried in the first place, which is where recycling comes in. Much of what gets landfilled can be reprocessed – paper, glass and many plastics. Organic wastes can be used to produce methane as a fuel. Electronics components can be dealt with by chemical or high-energy methods to recover their usable contents and reduce the rest to an inert, non-toxic residue that tales up far less space and is safe to bury.

Modern incinerator technology also allows much of the material that’s currently disposed of to be recovered. Metals and other minerals present in waste can be extracted from the smoke produced, while toxins and environmentally damaging chemicals are safely captured. Some of these methods are energy-intensive, which has to be balanced against the waste reduction, but others are capable of generating much of their own power from the incineration process.

Landfill is likely to be around for a while longer, although the Zero Waste movement’s ultimate goal is to see them phased out completely, but both consumer-led policies such as packaging reduction and improved waste handling and recycling can reduce the volume immensely. That’s good for the environment, good for natural resources and ultimately cheaper than burying so much potentially valuable material.

Recycling News (8-17-2014)

The USA hasn’t always been the fastest country to embrace recycling and standards are still uneven across states and cities, but a lot of progress has been made over the last few years and waste management is better than it’s ever been. There’s still a lot that could be done to improve things of course, but before trying to make any plans it helps to know the size of the challenge.

The USA has the world’s largest economy and very high levels of consumption, so the amount of waste produced is enormous. Every year the USA produces over 250 million tons of household trash, around a ton for every adult in the country. At the turn of the century less than a sixth of that was recycled. Now the figure is nearly a third, and rising. In some sectors it’s a lot better than that – in 2009, the most recent year of full statistics, 53.4 percent of all paper waste was recycled. These numbers aren’t bad at all, but some countries are doing even better – Germany recycles half of municipal waste, and burns most of the rest in clean incinerators and composts almost everything that remains. Practically nothing goes to landfill.

Continue reading “Recycling News (8-17-2014)” »

Recycling News (8-10-2014)

It’s hard to grasp how fast electronics have transformed the world, and one of the most startling changes is the way technology has changed resource use. Meeting the demand for new electronic devices has been a massive boost for several mining industries, with a third of all copper and silver that’s extracted now being used for technology manufacturing. Even more striking is the fact that 80 percent of all extraction or rare earth and platinum group metals took place in the last 30 years. The problem is that this rate of extraction is putting resources under huge pressure. More rare earth metals have been sent to landfills in scrap electronics than exist in all known reserves.

Continue reading “Recycling News (8-10-2014)” »

Recycling News (8-3-2014)

Every day thousands of tons of food go to landfill in the USA. There’s a lot we can do to reduce this, including better labeling, education about food safety and more sensible shopping, but inevitably there will always be a degree of waste. Unfortunately food is a bad thing to dispose of in landfill; as it decomposes it releases methane, a greenhouse gas that’s far more powerful and destructive than carbon dioxide. Now a US Air Force cadet has helped to develop a solution that’s designed to solve this problem for deployed military units, but has the potential to be scaled up for large-scale general use.

Continue reading “Recycling News (8-3-2014)” »

Recycling News (7-27-2014)

From a waste point of view one of the biggest changes over the past fifteen years has been the huge expansion of the market for lithium-based batteries, with the most common type being rechargeable lithium ion cells. Until the mid-1990s the most common use for these was in specialist camera batteries but now they’re become ubiquitous. Cellphones, laptop and tablet computers, almost all modern MP3 and media players, and increasingly flashlights and similar devices – they’re all powered by lithium ion batteries.

Continue reading “Recycling News (7-27-2014)” »

Recycling News (7-22-2014)

Over half of the paper consumed in the United States is now recycled, a steady improvement on the situation during the 1990s, but progress is slower than it could be. Now a new building material has the potential to create a huge new demand for waste paper that could help push the rate up faster than before.

A team at the University of Nottingham in the UK has developed a new composite material based on shredded waste paper. Long, fine strands of paper are bonded together under high pressure using a sodium silicate gluing agent, resulting in a material that’s as strong as the particle board often used for interior walls, ceilings and other non-load bearing structural components. In other ways it’s superior to particle board. The use of sodium silicate makes the new material resistant to flame and moisture, which has obvious safety advantages for a construction material. Additionally it can be used in many environments where particle board is unsuitable. Particle board has a tendency to discolor when exposed to moisture; in extreme cases it can distort, swell or even disintegrate. The bonding process means it can also be molded into different shapes. One option is to mold it with a ribbed surface, giving much greater structural strength for the same weight of material. Most particle board comes as flat boards or strips, so the pressed paper alternative is more versatile and could well turn out to be more durable, too.

Continue reading “Recycling News (7-22-2014)” »

Recycling News (7-14-2014)

The USA is a great believer in free trade and while the tariff situation isn’t perfect – there are more obstacles to trade than there should be – it’s a lot more flexible than many other countries. Where there are tariffs they’re usually aimed at restricting certain imports to protect key US industries. There’s one field where other countries’ export tariffs are creating obstacles to some fast-growing US companies though, and that’s recycling. Now the International Trade Commission is leading a drive to lower regulatory barriers on shipments of high-value scrap.

An advanced economy like the USA produces a lot of waste that’s loaded with potentially valuable materials. Often it’s not economical to reprocess it here, but it has a substantial value to the right buyer. In 2013 the USA exported nearly 43 million tons of scrap, including old electronic devices, steel-rich scrap and plastics. As well as keeping it out of US landfills these exports earned $24 billion, but that sum could have been a lot more if companies didn’t face so many tariffs and over-zealous regulations.

The USA already has reciprocal agreements with many countries that ease the shipping of recycling, because it’s recognized that the trade in scrap has many economic and environmental advantages. It might seem counter-intuitive to use energy and shipping space hauling trash abroad, but if the alternative is it being buried or incinerated there’s a significant environmental gain. Recycling facilities aren’t evenly distributed either; there are specialist plants in the USA that import waste from abroad and process it into valuable materials, for example. At the same time much US scrap can be reclaimed more efficiently at foreign plants, such as consumer lamps and flat screens – although that’s changing as BLUBOX sites open in the USA.

Of course that’s another point – as well as waste, recycling equipment itself is a valuable component of international trade and it’s to everyone’s advantage to keep that trade as free as possible. After all if recycling technology becomes more widespread then more waste can be reprocessed. Trade agreements cover equipment including shredders, balers and magnetic separators. There are some serious gaps in the agreements, though.
Now the International Trade Commission is investigating the impact of tariffs and looking at ways to persuade other governments to ease or remove them. Last year US companies exported billions of dollars’ worth of scrap iron and plastic, plus millions of tons of paper and fiber destined for recycling. Out of the ferrous scrap $700 million was subjected to import duty, and for paper waste that figure was $300 million. The recycling industry is increasingly competitive and excessive tariffs can make it uneconomical to export; profit margins are often thin and faced with the extra charge many companies will just give up on the idea of operating internationally. The ITC sees a significant opportunity to improve the balance of trade and ease the US landfill situation at the same time; the solution is to persuade other countries to match the US policy of not charging tariffs on imported scrap. It’s a simple solution and if governments can be persuaded to sign up to it a valuable, environmentally friendly business sector could grow enormously.