Recycling is processing used materials (waste) into new products to prevent waste of potentially useful materials, reduce the consumption of fresh raw materials, reduce energy usage, reduce air pollution (from incineration) and water pollution (from landfilling) by reducing the need for "conventional" waste disposal, and lower greenhouse gas emissions as compared to virgin production. Recycling is a key component of modern waste reduction and is the third component of the "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle" waste hierarchy.
Recyclable materials include many kinds of glass, paper, metal, plastic, textiles, and electronics. Although similar in effect, the composting or other reuse of biodegradable waste – such as food or garden waste – is not typically considered recycling. Materials to be recycled are either brought to a collection center or picked up from the curbside, then sorted, cleaned, and reprocessed into new materials bound for manufacturing.
In the strictest sense, recycling of a material would produce a fresh supply of the same material—for example, used office paper would be converted into new office paper, or used foamed polystyrene into new polystyrene. However, this is often difficult or too expensive (compared with producing the same product from raw materials or other sources), so "recycling" of many products or materials involves their reuse in producing different materials (e.g., paperboard) instead. Another form of recycling is the salvage of certain materials from complex products, either due to their intrinsic value (e.g., lead from car batteries, or gold from computer components), or due to their hazardous nature (e.g., removal and reuse of mercury from various items). Critics dispute the net economic and environmental benefits of recycling over its costs, and suggest that proponents of recycling often make matters worse and suffer from confirmation bias. Specifically, critics argue that the costs and energy used in collection and transportation detract from (and outweigh) the costs and energy saved in the production process; also that the jobs produced by the recycling industry can be a poor trade for the jobs lost in logging, mining, and other industries associated with virgin production; and that materials such as paper pulp can only be recycled a few times before material degradation prevents further recycling. Proponents of recycling dispute each of these claims, and the validity of arguments from both sides has led to enduring controversy.
One of the aspects of this topic particularly interesting to me are the "garbage islands" - the trash that ends up in the world's oceans and forms whole islands, that mostly consist of plastic.
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch (also sometimes called the Eastern Garbage Patch) is an area with an intense concentration of marine trash located between Hawaii and California. The exact size of the patch is unknown however because it is constantly growing.
The patch developed in this area because of the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre- one of many oceanic gyres caused by a convergence of ocean currents and wind. As the currents meet, the earth’s Coriolis Effect (the deflection of moving objects caused by the Earth’s rotation) causes the water to slowly rotate, creating a funnel for anything in the water. Because this is a subtropical gyre in the northern hemisphere it rotates clockwise. It’s also a high pressure zone with hot equatorial air and comprises much of the area known as the horse latitudes.
Some really interesting links I found: