View Full Version : Recycling Rant

Paul Alciatore
10-12-2008, 05:18 PM
I may not brag about it, but I do like to recycle things. Probably started with my motherís paper bag collection when I was a kid. She had a whole cabinet full. And she recycled other things too, long before it was stylish.

So here is my bitch: why do manufacturers make things so they loose their value for reuse? I have always saved the plastic tops from spray cans for a variety of uses. They are quite handy for small parts on the workbench or on the shelf. They were also useful for mixing fluids, soaking small parts in solvent, containers for small molds, and a lot of other uses involving liquids. But now for the past several years, they are making them with holes in the top. The first time I encountered this, I wound up with a bunch of solvent on the workbench. Grrrrrrrrr! I guess there is a need for some kind of vent, but I doubt that it really needs to be on the top. It could serve the same function near the bottom where the cap snaps onto the can. Heck, a small slot there would serve the additional function of making the cap easier to remove. I have actually returned products where the cap was almost impossible to remove. Or just make the cap loose fitting in the first place so it does not seal tight.

Now I know there are a variety of people here that work in many different industries so I am throwing the thought out in the small hope that it may reach an influential ear.

Instead of built in barriers to reuse, make your products more recyclable. I am sure there are many more opportunities for this. Consider blister packaging. If the clear plastic is flat, it is a great source for reusable material. I save many pieces from products packed like this and used this plastic for a variety of purposes. But so many blister packs are made so irregular that this is impossible. It would probably be cheaper to make the molds flatter and it would use less plastic as well thus saving money two ways.

10-12-2008, 05:33 PM
Glad to see I'm not the only to discover a hole in the cap the hard way (:-).....

I too save flat pieces of package plastic, they can be formed somewhat by heating in the oven @ 175-200 degrees.....Best done when SWMBO is out and about.....A piece of cardboard keeps it from sagging and sticking to the rack.....


Mike Burdick
10-12-2008, 05:50 PM
It seems to me that recycling packaging in the food industry would result in the most saving. In many cases, if not most, the packaging cost more then the item we are buying and of course we toss this part of the purchase almost immediately. For example most can goods and other bottled items like catchup, etc. fit this category well.

Our local grocery chain used to offer bulk foods but not anymore. I suppose most of this has to do with the chances of tampering but still I don't know if the general public really liked the idea.

With the high cost of shipping maybe industry will start looking at ways to reduce a lot of the foolish over-packaging ... so for all you young people out there that think there aren't any opportunities left...here's your chance! As usual, this problem will not be solved by government intervention and regulation - the only way to solve this is by good old fashioned ingenuity and the desire for someone to become rich! Too bad "rich" is considered a four-lettered word.:o

10-12-2008, 06:11 PM
Recycling.. HA..

I was woke up about six am while I lived in a bad section of town.. Cans, rattling on the sidewalk.. I looked out, there was a hobo pouring trash out on the sidewalk and gathering up the aluminum cans and putting them into a bag.. (half full or more)

I hollered at him.. he smiled and said he was just doing his part to recycle.. I asked him to leave my trash alone.. which he did..

Ever wonder if it was really a dog in your garbage?

J Tiers
10-12-2008, 09:23 PM
What Paul is talking about is mostly the "reuse" part of "reduce, reuse, recycle".

The real problem is when the plastic thing is unusable as-is, has NO recycling symbol (so is unrecycleable), and can't be avoided without a big hassle.

What irks me just as much is the plastic food container which is molded with ribs and so forth that completely prevent you from getting out all the contents. An example are the larger bottles of pasta sauce...... nice molded-in handle form that prevents getting out what is on the far side of it, ribs that hold lots of sauce, and a top formed in such a way that no kitchen spatula will reach under it to scrape off what is there. Each one may hold nearly a quarter cup of sauce that can only be got at by centrifuging the stuff towards the cap. We all have suitable centrifuges, right? You can do that somewhat by hand, but it sure is a hassle.

10-12-2008, 09:23 PM
The purpose of recycling is not for you to re-use the items or find a different use for them. The purpose is for you to turn them in to recycling center.
Recycling is big business,companies want the items turned in, not reused by
some smart aleck HSM with a brain.
I have some spray can caps in an old aluminum tray, I use them for small nut and bolt segregation when working on various prjoects. I fill the caps with solvent so upon re-assembly I have clean nuts and bolts.

10-13-2008, 02:31 AM
I reuse rather than recycle. The recycling here is a sick joke. They have a series of large dumpsters in a row at one of the local shopping centers with nice big labels on them proclaiming what is supposed to go into each one. People dutifully separate their trash and deposit in the dumpsters. What they don't know is that at night along comes the garbage truck and they empty all the dumpsters into the truck together, then take it to the landfill at the local copper mine open pit.

Even worse is how they handle aluminum cans. This summer I asked the depot if it was ok to submit smashed cans for a refund of the deposit and was told "sure, no problem". So I whipped up a can crusher for my log splitter and crushed up 1000 Coca Cola cans. I took them in and they almost fainted. They though I meant maybe a few dozen cans. They aren't supposed to accept crushed cans it turns out. What they told me next I almost couldn't believe. The recycling company that eventually receives the cans doesn't want them crushed because they want to be able to make sure they aren't from out of the country or province as they won't be paid the deposit by the government if they are so found when audited.

So, the cans are collected un-smashed and shipped un-smashed by trucks to a central collection and audit point. When I crushed my cans I averaged about a 14 to 1 volume reduction ratio. This means they are sending out 14 trucks filled mostly with air to deliver what should be in one truck filled with crushed cans. It also means you would be doing the environment a big favor if you don't return your cans here as there is no way returning them can make up for the fuel used and the pollution generated by transporting them uncrushed.

I still can't believe it.

10-13-2008, 05:36 AM
about a 14 to 1 volume reduction ratio. This means they are sending out 14 trucks filled mostly with air to deliver what should be in one truck filled with crushed cans
Which, no doubt, makes the truck driver/s happy. And everyone else who can profit from the "recycling" industry. The commercial imperative??

J Tiers
10-13-2008, 07:44 AM
"Recycling" in Evan's area makes zero sense to begin with.

You need to have a fairly dense population, or a few large waste generators, to make it reasonable. And you need to have a fairly close market for the collected stuff. It is reasonable to judge that those conditions do not apply in his area.

Evan's example should not be used to discredit recycling in general.

In my area, the city collects "single stream" style now, and has been recycling for 20 years. The city makes money on the program, which is a good indication that there is overall sense to it.

10-13-2008, 07:53 AM
I bet they are paying some clown somewhere to sort through the cans to verify point of origin. Where I work they were going to do all kinds of magic things with the money from the recycling program. I sat through a long winded lecture how much money the program was generating.
I asked where the money actually was, management finally admitted the savings were in cost avoidance, code word for we made no money.