Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Recycling or collection? Both.

When we say "recycle", we typically talk about "collection effort" -- putting things in recycling bins. This is confusing because "collecting recyclables" and "remanufacturing recyclables" are very different two processes.

The effort to increase collection rate is one thing, effort to increase good quality recyclables is another thing, then improving remanufacturing process and marketing secondary products are yet another thing.

Interesting story about Japanese plastic bottle recycling. (leftt: EoL plastic bottle collection rate)

1) Collection rate has been increasing and coming close to 70%. (I guess simple strategy to install recycling box exclusively for plastic bottles everywhere really helps.)
2) The quality of feedstock is improving. (Consumer awareness matters: they are educated and increasingly source-separate recyclables, therefore plastic bottles are not comingled with other plastics, making feedstock more heterogeneous)
3) Technology for remanufacturing is improving, helped by heterogeneous feedstock. (even different kind of plastic is considered contaminants that deteriorates the quality of secondary material)
4) Secondary products are increasingly with good quality, finding them suitable for different kinds of uses. (combination of 1, 2 and 3)