WT Skip Hire

Waste Not: How Many Times Can a Substance Be Recycled?

Posted on: August 25, 2017

Recycling point sign

At WT Skips, we recycle over 90% of the waste collected in our skips. We are doing our bit for the future of the planet by extending the life cycle of waste materials. Recycling is good for business, too – as we get charged for every tonne that we send to landfill. Some substances can be recycled indefinitely, but others have a limited number of cycles. Let’s find out which are which. 


Glass is a fascinating substance. Who came up with idea of heating sand until the grains stuck together? The inventor of the bottle heated sand to 1000s of degrees, then put his lips close to the dripping molten lava and tried to blow a big bubble. The arrangement of molecules in glass mean that it is technically a liquid even at room temperature. Glass can be recycled an infinite number of times.


Paper doesn’t have to be made from trees. The old paper mill at Wookey Hole in Somerset has successfully made paper from all kinds of plants (hemp is particularly good), fabrics (they once produced a blue paper made from denim jeans) and even animal dung from Bristol Zoo! Paper can be made from used paper but not indefinitely. The fibres become too short to bond effectively after four or five runs through the mill.


Metals can be elements like Iron and Aluminium or alloys like Brass and Pewter that are made up from combinations of metals and other (not necessarily metallic) elements to make a compound that has entirely new properties. Steel is an alloy of Iron and Carbon that is stronger and more flexible than either of its constituents. Metals can be melted down and reformed as many times as needed.


Plastic is a more complex case than the others as there are many different polymers. All can be recycled to some degree. None of them can be recycled indefinitely, but plastic also has a famously long life. Plastics don’t decay or oxidise. Many kinds won’t shatter. A common plastic polymer such as PET that is used for drinking bottles can be recycled, but it will most likely be recycled down (i.e. recycled into a product that cannot be further recycled). 

We hope you found that interesting. If you have any questions about our processes, there is more information about recycling on our website. Hiring a skip is an environmentally responsible way to dispose of your waste. To hire one of our skips, call us on 01493 668118 or fill out the online booking form.

Interested in waste disposal? We are always posting articles and links on our Facebook and Twitter accounts.