How do we define a recycler and at what stage is recycling occurring?
Is the mechanic who after repairing a vehicle puts aside the replaced vehicles damaged doors, bumpers and bonnets rather than sending them to land fill the recycler?
Is it the scrap metal collector who, on his way from collecting old lawnmowers and broken bicycles and other municipal waste scrap passes by the mechanic to pick up the damaged parts?
Is it the waste collection centre who weighs the scrap from the collectors truck and pays him according?
Is it the transport company who picks up the damaged car parts along with reclaimed appliances and other types of ferrous scrap and then delivers it to a large shredding company?
Is it the shredding company who feeds his hammer mill with the scrap and transforms it into fist sized balls of iron?.
Is it the steel mill who buys the shredded scrap and mixes it with other grades of steel scrap to create the optimum mix for new steel manufacturers furnace?
Or is it the steel manufacturer who takes the mix and melts it in huge furnaces only to pour the molten mix in to moulds to be transformed back in to new steel and ultimately in to new products?
So, who is the recycler in this story?
• The Mechanic who initially put the damaged parts aside instead of throwing them out with the rubbish or sending them to the landfill?
• The scrap collecting company who moved it from the mechanic to collection point?
• or is it the transport company who moved the scrap in large quantities to the shredding facility?
. Could it be the shredder company who transformed the scrap in to manageable fist sized balls for melting?
• Or do we consider the ultimate recycler to be the steel foundry that melted the scrap before forming it back in to sheets of new steel ready to be turned in to new products?
The paradox is that none those companies mentioned above can by themselves be called the recycler … but, all together, in a loop they all recycled!
The point of this story is to illustrate that recycling in itself is not a single phase, but rather a process. A process by which discarded or unused scrap, from whatever source is recognized not as waste but as something that still has an economic value and is then converted into new materials.
Recycling is often illustrated with three arrows which make up a circle.
To recycle is not only to separate, it is not only to collect, it is not only to shred and it is not only to melt and make new products.
Recycling is the combination of all of these activities which together make up the recycling circle.